April 2008

Special Report: Petrochemical Developments

Technology has created an alarm management crisis

Here's what needs to be done to solve the problem

O'Brien, L., ARC Advisory Group

A?larm management is one of the most undervalued and underutilized aspects of process automation. In most cases, alarm systems do not receive the attention and resources that are warranted. This is understandable, because alarming appears to be a deceptively simple activity. Many plants still use the alarm management philosophy developed by the engineering firm when the plant was built. The age of digital process control transformed the role of the alarm. In the days of hardwired controls and alarms, engineers were very stingy with alarms, in part because each alarm point had a cost. The primary issue with alarm systems is there is too much information for an operator to assimilate and act

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