Groundbreaking ISA18 Committee Looks to the Future While Honoring the Memory of a Lost Leader

  • Standards

With the first edition in 2009, ANSI/ISA-18.2, Management of Alarm Systems for the Process Industries, changed the world with the introduction of activities grouped into the alarm management lifecycle. The standard has found wide use in improving the development, design, installation, and management of alarm systems across the process industries and other sectors. 

ISA18 has since updated the standard (in 2016), shepherded its adoption as an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard, and is now beginning work on a third revision. At the same time, the committee has worked to develop a comprehensive series of ISA technical reports to help users better understand and implement the standard.

A major contributor to this work over many years was Bridget Fitzpatrick, who was highly regarded for her knowledge, wit, and assistance. Thus, the members of ISA18, and indeed all who worked with and knew her, were stunned and saddened by her tragic death earlier this year while on a business trip for her employer, Wood of Houston, Texas. 

ISA18 has been diligent in spreading the leadership of its various technical reports, helping prepare committee members for increasingly responsible leader roles. Fitzpatrick herself served as a working group chair and lead editor, and in recent years had accepted an invitation to join the governing body for ISA standards, the ISA Standards & Practices Board. In that role, she served as the managing director of ISA18, representing the interests of the committee on the Board while also representing the Board in monitoring the activities of the committee. 

ISA18 has now drawn on that reservoir of experience to help fill the leadership void from the loss of Fitzpatrick with new appointments and changing responsibilities to ensure its continuing success as the world’s primary alarm management consensus standards body. Among the changes:

  • Long-time ISA18 co-chair Nicholas Sands of DuPont will now become co-managing director, to be joined by Graham Nasby of CN. 
  • Long-time co-chair Donald Dunn of WS Nelson will be joined in that role by Kevin Brown of mCloud Technologies.
  • Cristobal Ruiz of NextDecade LLC will continue to lead working group 1, a role he shared with Fitzpatrick before her passing, in a revision of ISA-18.1, Annunciator Sequences and Specifications. Donald Dunn will co-chair this working group.

New projects and technical reports 

The first virtual meeting of a new ISA18 working group, Digitalization of Alarm Management, was held in early October. The purpose was to create a technical report on the digital transfer of data between the systems and groups performing alarm management lifecycle activities to improve efficiency, data integrity, and compatibility with other project and operation activities. The scope is defined primarily by the alarm management lifecycle activities described in the ISA-18.2 standard. The working group is led by Idar Pe Ingebrigtsen of Equinor ASA, Norway.

A technical report being developed by another working group, led by Dale Reed of Rockwell Automation and Lieven Dubois of AlarmManagement4U, 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-2023.

Work is also underway on an update of ISA-TR18.2.3, Basic Alarm Design, led by Todd Stauffer of Virtual Facility and Bonnie Ramey of DuPont. This document provides guidance on the types and attributes of basic alarms. 

A recently updated technical report, ISA-TR18.2.5-2022, Alarm System Monitoring, Assessment, and Auditing, provides guidance, rationale, and examples of alarm monitoring, assessment, and audit, which are essential to achieving and maintaining the performance objectives of an alarm system. These activities can identify improvement opportunities in the other lifecycle stages, such as philosophy, rationalization, detailed design, implementation, operation, maintenance, and management of change. The update effort was led by Donald Dunn and Bill Hollifield of Hexagon.

In 2023, ISA18 will begin work on the next version of ISA-18.2. This effort and those of the ISA18 working groups are open to all ISA members and the public. If you have an interest in alarm management, please contact or visit its website


A group of people sitting at a table.
At the ISA Standards & Practices Board meeting on 9 November, three Standards Department Awards were announced that honor these ISA18 leaders:

  • Nicholas Sands: in appreciation of his 19 years of excellence as ISA18 co-chair
  • Donald Dunn and Bill Hollifield: in recognition of their leadership and expertise as working group co-chairs in the update of ISA-TR18.2.5-2022, Alarm System Monitoring, Assessment, and Auditing.

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