At one time, alarm management programs were developed and handed down to operators. At the Husky PG Oil Refinery in Prince George, B.C., for example, alarm management came from the engineering side, and operators just became involved afterward, says Yuqin Ying.
“If they think a setting is too high or too low, they request changes and we can go through and make those changes,” Ying explains, noting that they weren’t involved at the design stage. “Only when they start operating, they find something that’s not good or needs changes.”
It has become increasingly accepted practice, however, to make sure that the operators are involved early on. They’re the ones, after all, who will have to deal with all those alarms. And they’re the ones who are most likely to know what will and won’t cause problems.
Operator involvement has been implemented at Husky. “This time we involved them in the whole process,” Ying says. “For alarm rationalization, we always have one or two operators involved in the process.”
Honeywell’s Kevin Brown is clear about the need for operator involvement. “If operations do not own the alarm management problem, that facility is likely to fail,” he says. “Typically, when people approach us, it usually comes out of the process control group or DCS group. Operations look, see too many alarms, and call the DCS people and say fix it. And then the DCS people call us for help. But the only way it’ll get fixed is if operations takes ownership.”
>> Read Automation World's complete coverage on alarm management: It's Hard to Keep a Bad Alarm Down.