Smart safety: Helping plants comply with safety regulations and standards

Sheila Kennedy says integrated safety technologies are helping plants avoid their biggest hazards.

By Sheila Kennedy

Traditional safety concerns coupled with newer cyber threats are increasing the challenge of ensuring safe and secure industrial operations. Risks to people, property, the environment, and business continuity are at stake. Smarter technologies and safety instrumented systems (SIS) are helping companies comply with safety regulations and standards from entities such as OSHA, the EPA, the IEC, and the ISA.

Safety platform

Layers of protection help prevent systematic failures. Vendor HIMA recommends having a safety platform that is independent from process control system platforms. “Using different technologies significantly increases the effort required to hack both systems,” says Stefan Ditting, product manager at HIMA Paul Hildebrandt GmbH in Germany. The company offers four safety platforms that can integrate with but remain physically separate from control systems.

“Maintenance is easier and more reliable when you focus on each system individually,” Ditting says.

Transmitters and controllers

Safety control, alarm, and shutdown system providers aim for a high-speed response to threatening conditions. Recent developments address both safety and security concerns.

The One Series Safety Transmitter from United Electric Controls is a pressure- or temperature-monitoring transmitter switch with an internal high-speed safety relay that enables fast emergency shutdowns and reduces nuisance trips. Featuring smart self-diagnostics and switch functions, it’s an alternative to upgrading old switch technology.

Embedding a switch and a transmitter within one device offers an easier and more-affordable alternative to adapting a process transmitter for safety use, says Wil Chin, a vice president at United Electric Controls.

The Rosemount 708 Wireless Acoustic Transmitter from Emerson Process Management monitors steam traps and pressure relief valves (PRV). It provides instant notification of PRV releases and early detection of steam trap failures.

“Security is always on, provided by advanced, standards-based encryption as well as authentication, verification, key management, and anti-jamming techniques,” says Melissa Stiegler, senior product marketing manager at Emerson.

The Tricon CX compact safety system from Schneider Electric protects against hazards in safety and critical control applications and against external threats such as cyber attacks. It’s designed to improve response time, increase run time, and allow for online modifications without interruption of operations. It is certified to ISASecure EDSA Level 1.

“With more power and speed complementing additional capabilities, the smaller, lighter Tricon CX safety system is meeting the issues that affect operational safety and business continuity head on,” says Mike Chmilewski, vice president of process systems offer management at Schneider Electric.

BMS Library

Burner management systems (BMS) are designed to ensure safe startup, operation, and shutdown of burner units and prevent hazards such as explosions. ABB recently released a BMS library for its High Integrity (HI) safety system to reduce engineering effort and improve operations and maintenance of burner management applications.

The library enables “complete control over the startup and operation of burners,” including monitoring of the ignition sequence, valve leak testing, and control of the fuel supply, says Luis Duran, ABB safety business development manager.

Integrated safety drive

Machine builders seeking to improve end-user safety and uptime have new options. The Kinetix 5500 servo drive with integrated safety from Rockwell Automation allows safety signals to travel via the same wires and IP addresses as control and motion signals, eliminating the need for a hardwired safety system.

“Putting safety on the network eases the configuration of and updates to safety functions,” says Mike Schweiner, product manager at Rockwell Automation.

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