10 Apr

Overlooked Benefits of Safety Optimization

Overlooked Benefits of Safety Optimization

Safety is an obvious priority within a process system or a boiler plant. The amount of income that could be lost due to destroyed equipment or injured personnel is enough for any plant manager to take safety seriously. Those who have implemented excellent safety systems have found that they are far more than a safety net. From office culture to monetary savings, optimized safety management offers a multitude of benefits.

The financial benefits of safety management come from the prevention of future malfunctions. While there are certainly aspects of safety that can have an immediate monetary benefit, the prevention aspect carries far more value. When a huge plant has a major malfunction, newscasters love to go on about the millions and sometimes billions of dollars in damage. Avoiding such catastrophes is a huge monetary benefit.

Optimization of alarm management is another great benefit. Part of developing a safety system is understanding what types of issues automation can handle on its own and those that need the guidance of an operator. If a bunch of alarms swarm on a screen all at once, that can create a lot of headaches, even more so if many of the alarms are nuisances. Safety is then compromised if operators can’t quickly decipher which alarm to pay attention to if they get used to ignoring nuisances. Prioritization and optimization of how alarms are handled within in a process system increases safety and frees up operator time for more important tasks.

This brings us to another often overlooked benefit of safety: stress relief and plant culture. Frequent nuisance alarms can create a stressful workplace, especially if there are many alarms appearing at the same time.  Even worse, such alarms can contribute to a culture that slacks off when it comes to safety. This is why the human element cannot be ignored when it comes to safety management. An optimized safety system can go far to optimize the workplace as a whole. Make sure to incorporate training into any new safety system so operators understand how the new system benefits the workplace and how to read the alarms.

The preservation of life and property is a huge motivating factor in optimizing process safety systems. This is part of the reason why we stress it as one of our core values. It’s important to also remember the monetary, organizational and cultural benefits optimized safety maintenance can have. Upgrades to safety systems can serve to improve more than just safety, a fact that only adds to the overall value of these systems.

13 Mar

Critical Measurements in a Process Plant

Critical Measurements in a Process Plant

Measurement is often part of the intelligent HMI discussion from the process industry to boiler systems; the measurement and balance of all materials involved is essential. The list of measurable elements in a plant can seem endless, which begs the question; what measurements should you prioritize in order to have the most efficient process?

This question was posed to Marc L. Hunter, our Vice-President, the other day, to which he replied, “That’s not quite the right question to ask.”

He went on to explain that measurement of anything is dependent on two questions. What is going to happen and what should I pay attention to?

The multitude of factors acting in a plant is indicative of the many different activities being performed. Many of these processes can be easily managed by automation and machines. The most important measurement of a plant then becomes alarms.

Alarm management is vital and should be made as proactive as possible. This requires strategic prioritization of alarms. No alarm should be completely ignored, but a smoothly running system must alert engineers to the most pressing alarms first.

Measurement in a plant therefore boils down to ISA 18.2 Alarm Management Standards. A system made to meet these standards alerts plant engineers of any issue using a prioritized list of alarms. This organization allows for the easy identification of the most critical issues. On days where few high risk problems occur, the less important alarms can be dealt with.

How many priority levels you need to adequately measure the performance of your plant requires a detailed discussion with an engineering consultant with alarm management expertise. The alarm management market offers a substantial variety in terms of the number of priorities levels. There isn’t much of a limit to the number of priority levels you can have. An alarm management expert will help you define just what you need to meet your business goals.