State-based control embeds proper operational discipline into a process automation and control system to avoid alarm flooding and keep plants safe.
The causes of damaging industrial incidents have been known for a long time, but these events still happen. Although incidents typically consist of several issues, many involve some common factors that can and should be managed. Following operational discipline means operators and technicians comply with agreed upon and well-defined processes, consistently executing them during all operations. We know through incident investigations over the years that operational discipline has been and continues to be a concern, with incident investigation reports frequently citing a failure to follow standard operating procedures. Alarm flooding overwhelms operators during already stressful situations and can distract and even mask the larger problem at hand in industrial facilities
State-based control has a long and successful history, having been installed by Dow in its manufacturing operating discipline (MOD) control systems in the 1970s. State-based control helped the company achieve environmental, health, and safety goals, and also added hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue (1). The adoption of state-based control can provide a significant competitive advantage.
This article describes how best practices in operational discipline can be embedded into the control infrastructure. Embedded operational discipline allows automated procedures and responses to abnormal situations to be applied consistently with no shortcuts, even under situations of stress and fatigue. State-based control creates an effective human-automation partnership, enabling the control system to utilize the operator’s abilities to the highest level.
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