Tracing back “bad actor“
A tailored alarm management solution can effectively support control room operators in monitoring and controlling processes to help prevent errors, and also contributes to optimum plant and process performance, as a project at an Evonik production site in Singapore demonstrates.
These risks can be mitigated by an alarm management system that filters and prioritizes alarms. One company that recently implemented a solution for alarm management is the specialty chemicals manufacturer Evonik. To serve the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific market, Evonik opened its OilAdditives plant in Singapore in 2008, and significantly expanded the plant in 2015, making it the largest Oil Additives production site within Evonik’s global network. The process control system used in Evonik’s Oil Additives plant in Singapore is based on Simatic PCS 7 and Simatic Batch. The entire plant is operated by a central control room, with two operating stations – one for monomer production and another for polymer production. Products are produced by order in batches to allow frequent process adaptations.
Reducing workload, improving performance
The plant was expanded in 2015, according to the previous paragraph. Evonik also looked into improving its existing alarm management system, by discussing the requirements and strategies with Siemens. To ensure that the solution meets the international standard, engineering and consulting experts from Siemens followed a structured approach comprising the development of a suitable alarm concept, data collection and system benchmarking, “bad actor” alarm resolution, alarm documentation and rationalization, real-time alarm management, and last, implementation in the DCS. Working closely with personnel from the plant, the Siemens team tailored the alarm management system by integrating the existing user requirements and best practices from the Evonik site in Darmstadt, Germany. Implementation of the new alarm management in the Simatic PCS 7 system and corresponding application software was performed by the local Singapore Siemens team. One crucial success factor of this project was the involvement of the Evonik plant operators in the concept and design phase, which allowed their years of operational experience to be applied in the design and creation of the solution. The Singapore Siemens team organized several workshops throughout the project to support the alarm evaluation and prioritization process, and to identify the causes of “bad actor” alarms.
One key feature of the alarm management system is the Advanced Alarm Suppression concept, which filters and aggregates alarms. Tailored alarm prioritization according to urgency and consequence ensures that operators are always presented with the most important alarms.
As part of the new concept, the alarm cockpit in the plant was also redesigned. Alarms are now aggregated into several logging lists, with one for all incoming process alarms and another for PLC process control messages. This concept ensures that process-related alarms are directed straight to the operator, while other alerts are sent to the plant maintenance personnel. As a result, tasks can be dealt with in a timely manner, because they are quickly assigned to the right person.
Positive feedback from operation
The new alarm management solution has exceeded Evonik’s expectations. In terms of the alarm optimization system, Evonik was able to effectively address the issue of operator stress in its Singapore plant. Following smooth implementation without any system downtime, the number of process alarms displayed in the control room has been reduced by more than half. In addition to the alarm management solution, Siemens also supported Evonik in implementing several system improvements. The plant personnel have easily adapted to the new solution and are already experiencing the benefits in their daily work.
Picture credits: Evonik Industries AG
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