ANSI/ISA-18.2, Management of Alarm Systems for the Process Industries, has found wide use and success in improving the development, design, installation, and management of alarm systems across the process industry sectors. The first edition, published in 2009, changed the world of alarm management with the introduction of activities grouped into the alarm management life cycle. A subsequent IEC version, IEC 62682, published in late 2014 and led by ISA18 co-chairs Donald Dunn and Nicholas Sands, added improvements, such as the elimination of country-centric criteria. The ISA18 committee then used the IEC version as a starting point for preparing the current 2016 ANSI/ISA version of the standard.

The ISA18 committee plans to begin working on the next revision of the standard in 2022. In the meantime, the committee has been busy with several projects—including one looking to the future of alarm management through the creation of a new working group 9 on the digitalization of alarm management activities. The scope of WG9, currently being developed, could include topics ranging from digital design to artificial intelligence for improved alarm system performance.

A new technical report being developed by ISA18 working group 8, led by Dale Reed of Rockwell Automation, is focused on alerts, events, prompts, and other notifications. The intent is to help users manage the notifications between the control system and operator that are not alarms, and other notifications not intended for the operator. The technical report is expected to be completed in mid-2022.

At the same time, ISA18 working groups are engaged in updating the following technical reports:

  • ISA–TR18.2.3, Basic Alarm Design, which provides guidance on implementing the practices set forth in ISA-18.2. Following the life-cycle model of ISA-18.2, the document assumes that alarms to be addressed in basic alarm design have completed rationalization where attributes such as alarm set point and priority have been defined.
  • ISA-TR18.2.5, Alarm System Monitoring, Assessment, and Auditing, which provides guidance on the use of alarm system analysis for both ongoing monitoring and periodic performance assessment. Monitoring, assessment, and audit are essential to achieving and maintaining the performance objectives of the alarm system. These activities can identify improvement opportunities in the other life-cycle stages, such as philosophy, rationalization, detailed design, implementation, operation, maintenance, and management of change.

ISA18 is also working on an update of ISA-18.1 (reaffirmed in 2004), Annunciator Sequences and Specifications. The purpose of the standard is to establish uniform annunciator terminology, sequence designations, and sequence presentation and to assist in the preparation of annunciator specifications and documentation. The standard is primarily for use with electrical annunciators that call attention to abnormal process conditions by the use of individual illuminated visual displays and audible devices. Annunciators can range from a single annunciator cabinet to complex annunciator systems with many lamp cabinets and remote logic cabinets. The sequence designations provided can be used to describe basic annunciator sequences and also many sequence variations. The standard lists types of information that should be included in annunciator specifications and types of documents that should be provided by manufacturers.

For information about ISA18 and its published standards and technical reports, please visit

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