SCADA and IT professionals have the ability to create tremendous value for pipeline operators and midstream companies by developing the ideal SCADA system that supports alarm management.
An effective alarm management system is critical to ensure that the pipeline control room can safely and efficiently respond to activity in all operating conditions (normal, abnormal, and emergency).
The direct result of a properly set-up SCADA system for alarm management includes:
- Improved operations effectiveness
- Reduced operating risk
- Clear alarm response direction to pipeline controllers
- Controllers functioning at peak effectiveness
- Minimized alarm workload
The key for SCADA/IT professionals to drive toward these results in pipeline operations is ensuring the integrity of the system.
1. Does the SCADA System Align with API 1167?
API 1167 (Pipeline SCADA Alarm Management) provides operators with recommended industry practices in the development, implementation, and maintenance of an Alarm Management program. The implementation of API 1167 is required by reference in the PHMSA Control Room Management Rule (CRM Rule).
Therefore, the onus is on operators to determine how to set up the SCADA system to support their specific alarm management functions to ensure safe operations.
API 1167 recommends that operators include the following elements in their Alarm Management program:
- Alarm Philosophy
- Alarm Definitions
- Management of Change
For SCADA/IT managers, start with your alarm philosophy as a function of your operation’s operating philosophy. Then, define the alarming process (alarm rationalization), create documentation that captures the alarming process, communicate critical information to stakeholders, and continue to oversee the program.
2. Is Automation Happening Naturally?
Automation is critical to support the integrity of the alarm management program.
No matter the operating condition, controllers need to be able to trust the information presented to them through the SCADA system on the HMI display. This is best achieved through automated processes that provide notifications during normal, abnormal, and emergency operating conditions.
That’s why the proper set-up, configuration, installation, and management of the SCADA system is critical from the outset to ensure the system continues to function properly over time.
To validate the system, SCADA managers should regularly test their automation processes such as opening and shutting valves during a specific operating condition or testing other field components to ensure controllers are seeing accurate data.
Taking the time to perform validations and run tests will allow you to prove the quality of the SCADA alarm management system to support the integrity of the operation.
3. Is SCADA Communication Clear?
Nothing is more confusing for a controller than mislabeled or inconsistent field points.
Pipeline controllers need to be able to achieve situational awareness by identifying and understanding the information presented to them on the HMI display.
For many control rooms, there is an issue of the way the points are set up and named. The key is being consistent, clearly communicating the field point labels to the control room, and gathering feedback from controllers on whether the labeling is supporting their ability to achieve situational awareness.
If controllers are not receiving the correct information, then consider making an adjustment to ensure that what is being communicated through the SCADA system is consistent and clear.
Find SCADA Support From EnerSys
The quality of your operation’s alarm management system is directly impacted by the quality of the SCADA system. This reality should be encouraging for a SCADA/IT manager that wants to create value for the operation.
Right now, though, you may be facing a roadblock providing value to the operation or ensuring safe operations.
If your operation is challenged by setting up or maintaining a proper SCADA alarm management system, contact us today. We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss aligning with API 1167, automation, communication, or another topic of concern for your operation.