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Alarm Management Gap Analysis and Improvement at NOVA Chemicals

Source: AIChE
  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    April 28, 2015
  • Duration:
    30 minutes
  • Skill Level:
  • PDHs:

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Alarm Management Gap Analysis and Improvement at NOVA Chemicals

Doug Lutz, Principal Process Automation Engineer, NOVA Chemicals Corp., Joffre, Alberta, Canada

For the past 10-15 years, many companies have embarked on initiatives to improve Alarm Management in their facilities.  The ISA 18.2 Alarm Management standard (2009), as well as the earlier EEMUA 191 publication (1999), offer plenty of guidance in terms of what good Alarm System Performance looks like.  Both ISA and EEMUA continue to enhance their publications.  Some of NOVA Chemicals' newer facilities were considered leaders in Alarm Management System performance in the early 2000's, achieving lower than EEMUA benchmark alarm rates, and had programs in place to ensure sustainment that performance.  As with any information we hear from suppliers and manufacturing organizations, can we surmise that performance advertised in a few facilities implies identical performance in all facilities?  Furthermore, is the message that is heard and understood by senior leadership consistently cast across all the facilities to ensure consistent performance?

In 2011, NOVA Chemicals used the available industry benchmarks, as well as NOVA Chemicals internal standards and procedures, to audit our facilities to look for potential gaps that should be acted on.  To perform the audit, 50 categorical areas were pulled out of the various guiding documents so that a gap analysis could be performed across the NOVA Chemicals' facilities.  From that audit, we set up a program, and prioritized areas for action based on the priority of each item.

The topic of this presentation and paper is some of the background that set this journey up for success (seeds that were planted 10-15 years prior to the audit), the program that NOVA Chemicals set up and acted on, and what improvements we were able to realize from this approach.  If you have multiple facilities that you want to set up a program to improve Alarm Management (more than just Alarm Rationalization, or reducing alarm rates), I think this story will be of interest to you.

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