Alarm Management & Operating Envelope
The client had identified a problem with the alarm rate being presented to control room operators, with operators receiving peak loads of several hundred alarms per hour. Not surprisingly, key alarms were being missed, and many of the alarms being presented were not associated with any useful action the operator could take.
We set up alarm journal collection from the DCS Event Chronicle, into a SQL server database. This allowed a very large dataset of alarms and events to be stored and analysed. From this, we created daily alarm reports, emailed to key Operations Engineers and Managers, allowing "bad actors" to be identified as the first phase of an Alarm Rationalisation project. Supported the client engineers to design and implement "area suppression" schemes, to suppress standing alarms caused by out-of-service equipment. We then implemented long-term trend reports for senior managment to use in their conversation with the Health & Safety Executive (HSEx). Finally, we implemented an email alerting system (the excellent Exele Topview) to allow low-priority alarms without useful immediate operator actions to be replaced with emails to, for instance, Maintenance Engineers.
The client was able to begin to focus on "bad actor" alarms in the DCS system, allowing them to make the first steps towards an orderly, prioritised approach to alarm rationalisation. Discussions with the HSEx became data-driven, and the client could demonstrate significant progress in reducing the alarm rate experienced by the operator.