DuPont’s Alarm Management Plan

When DuPont began its efforts to overhaul its alarm management system, the plan called for very specific steps in the process.


1. Leadership. This is a big deal, says Nick Sands, manufacturing technology fellow at DuPont. “For the first 20 years, we were improving from the bottom up,” he recalls. “In the last 20 months, corporate was all over it, and we got it done.”

2. Monitoring. Get your measurements in place first, Sands recommends. “Get your data set for about a month. Wait to fix things.”

3. Benchmark. Interview the operators to find out what they think about how the alarm system performs.

4. Quick hits. “Get rid of those things going off,” Sands says. DuPont sometimes had alarms going off 150,000 times a week. In one case, an alarm was going off repeatedly throughout the day. It turned out to be caused by a fan every time a light was turned on in the restroom. “Nobody knew how bad it was,” Sands says. Getting nuisance alarms under control makes considerable improvement. “People start to believe that things can change; that it doesn’t always have to be that way.”

5. Training. DuPont trained 523 people through a two-day class. This had to be done before moving on to step 6, Sands says.

6. Philosophy. “It’s going to guide you year after year, operator after operator,” Sands says. “If you want to make sure you have an alarm management program that’s sustainable over time, you have to have a philosophy in place.”

7. Rationalize. See more in the main story about rationalization.

8. Improvement. It’s a never-ending process, requiring continuous improvement.

9. Audit. What are the gaps? What needs to be improved on?

>> Read Automation World's complete coverage on alarm management: It's Hard to Keep a Bad Alarm Down.

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