Emerson alarm analysis tool promises to reduce downtime and increase operator productivity

Emerson Process Management has introduced an Alarm Analysis tool designed specifically for its Ovation expert control system. This tool is part of Emerson's ongoing commitment to help customers develop an effective alarm management strategy that contributes to reduced downtime and increased operator productivity. The Ovation system is a key component of Emerson's PlantWeb digital architecture that delivers process and equipment diagnostics data over digital buses to improve plant operations and streamline maintenance activities.

Proliferation of alarms can make it difficult for operators to distinguish between critical events that require intervention, and nuisance alarms. Emerson's Alarm Analysis package examines alarm data collected by the Ovation historian, providing the user with information necessary to minimize unnecessary alarms. This, in turn, enables plant operators to more effectively address real, high-priority issues and focus on actionable items.

The user-friendly tool can be used online or offline. Tailored specifically for the Ovation system, the package allows users to sort, filter and analyze alarm information by a number of variables, including point names, descriptions, plant areas, time ranges, and types of alarm. Data can also be summarized according to alarm display, alarm priority, alarm rate and frequency.

The Alarm Analysis tool also offers various statistical analysis functions, including operator response analysis, plant upset analysis, as well as auto-correlation analysis, which considers the causal relationship between alarms, providing additional valuable insight for optimizing the generation and reporting of alarms.

Based on the analysis, engineers can make appropriate changes, such as adjusting alarm limits to minimize chattering alarms, or adding cut-out logic to eliminate alarms related to equipment that has been out of service.

An effective alarm management strategy is a critical component in reducing downtime and increasing productivity for a number of reasons. Operators presented with too many alarms may overlook an important indicator of an abnormal situation, or be so overwhelmed as to unnecessarily trip the unit as a safety measure instead of trying to decipher the information being conveyed. Both scenarios can significantly impact the safety of plant personnel and the efficiency of plant operations. Furthermore, with the expected departure of many seasoned operators from the workforce, alarm management becomes an important component in helping inexperienced operators determine the appropriate course of action. From a financial perspective, by helping plants achieve higher levels of availability and reliability, an effective alarm management strategy contributes to bottom-line profitability.

“Emerson is convinced that effective alarm management offers a path to operational improvement,” said Bob Yeager, president of the Power & Water Solutions division of Emerson. “From our perspective, the insight gleaned from in-depth alarm analysis enables plant engineers to make adjustments and corrections so operators are presented with alarm information that is relevant and concise, enabling them to operate the plant more efficiently and reliably.”

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