in an attempt to reduce control room clutter, many automation professionals have begun to eliminate nuisance alarms and consolidate those that are repetitive. looking for answers to these questions, automation world asked users of alarm technology for their observations in an informal, unscientific survey, and also sought the perspective of vendors. “because that is often the place where people see alarms, that is generally what they consider to be their alarm system.” he, and others, point to a desire to benefit from the latest in information technology as another reason that many users see alarm management as part of an hmi upgrade. as part of their investment in alarm software upgrades, 29% of the respondents indicate they are making use of a related best practice: the use of simple grayscale screens that reserve color and flashing icons for drawing attention to abnormalities.
another important best practice being adopted is the use of software to prioritize alarms. “so, the integrator just turns on all the alarms and gives them equal status, leaving the development of a priority hierarchy for later.” in too many cases, the hierarchy is left for the operators to discover. “if you have a lot of alarms that are in a bit of a mess, then you’ve got to clean them up before you do the rationalization. “the task of categorizing and prioritizing them is typically easier when development engineers, management, and operators all work together to creating the alarm philosophy.” right now, about 55% of all respondents say that operators help with alarm management and system specification.
one of the common phenomena of alarm management is an initial gain in performance, followed by a gradual erosion of benefits. as stated in ansi/isa-18.2-2016, management of alarm systems for the process industries, an alarm class is a “group of alarms with a common set of alarm management requirements (e.g., testing, training, monitoring, and audit requirements).” assigning classes of alarms by only the source may seem attractive; however, the alarm source can have a wide variety of alarm management requirements.
note: the isa technical report on this topic (isa-tr18.2.5-2012, alarm system monitoring, assessment, and auditing) is a good reference for methods, metrics, and work practices. rationalization: guidelines related to different classes of alarms help streamline and manage the rationalization process. however, managing the requirements is much easier to implement if you recognize that some alarm types have different life-cycle requirements. to “right size” the effort, use an initial approach of generating a set of alarm classes that splits out the key “special” or hma alarms and leaves the rest as a general class.
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