DuPont’s Alarm Management Plan

Sept. 26, 2013
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.

About the Author

Aaron Hand | Editor-in-Chief, ProFood World

Aaron Hand has three decades of experience in B-to-B publishing with a particular focus on technology. He has been with PMMI Media Group since 2013, much of that time as Executive Editor for Automation World, where he focused on continuous process industries. Prior to joining ProFood World full time in late 2020, Aaron worked as Editor at Large for PMMI Media Group, reporting for all publications on a wide variety of industry developments, including advancements in packaging for consumer products and pharmaceuticals, food and beverage processing, and industrial automation. He took over as Editor-in-Chief of ProFood World in 2021. Aaron holds a B.A. in Journalism from Indiana University and an M.S. in Journalism from the University of Illinois.

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