An alarm is classified as an event to which an operator must react, respond and acknowledge (not simply acknowledge and ignore) and no plant should have more than six such alarm occurrences an hour. [EEMUA 191 guidelines]
If you have more than that you have got it wrong!
The objective of an alarm system is to minimise or prevent physical and economic loss through operator intervention.
Note safety takes precedence over economics.
The aim of an alarm system is to prevent, or at the very least minimise, physical and economic loss to plant or people through operator intervention in response to a plant condition that has occurred thus making the necessary corrective action optimising production.
Alarm management has new meaning in major process plant disasters of recent years, such as Buntsfield, Chernobyl, BP Texas City, Bhopal and 3 Mile Island to name but a few.
Collaborative work by large process companies, vendors and industry organisations like the Electrical Equipment Manufacturers and Users Association (EEMUA) and the Instrumentation Society of America (ISA); accepting the need for an alarm management strategy; and applying new technology and standards to the process, companies can achieve multiple benefits. These include better productivity, quality improvement, a more motivated and responsible staff, improved profitability and efficiency while minimising the potential liability of management.
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