ISA18 charts updates to ISA/IEC alarm management standard and technical reports

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. At a face-face meeting in late October, the ISA18 committee, which originated the standard and has developed a comprehensive series of ISA technical reports to support it, established a plan to further advance the understanding and application of the world's first consensus standard on alarm management.

ANSI/ISA-18.2 changed the world of alarm management when first published in 2009 with the introduction of activities grouped into the alarm management life cycle. An IEC version, IEC 62682, was published in late 2014, led by ISA18 co-chairs Donald Dunn of Allied Reliability Group as the IEC convenor and Nicholas Sands of DuPont as secretary/editor. It added improvements such as the elimination of country-centric criteria. The ISA18 committee, drawing on knowledge gained from six years of use across industry, then used the IEC version as a starting point for preparing the current 2016 ANSI/ISA version of the standard.

As decided at the October meeting, Dunn and Sands will once more lead an IEC team in updating IEC 62682 based on the ANSI/ISA 2016 revision. At the same time, ISA18 will begin the process of updating its series of supporting technical reports, which include:

  • ISA-TR18.2.2, Alarm Identification and Rationalization, addresses alarm identification and rationalization for facilities in the process industries for purposes such as improving safety, environmental protection, product quality, equipment protection, and plant productivity. The methods described are applicable to batch and discrete processes as well as continuous processes. Identification and rationalization cover the processes to determine the possible need for or a change to an alarm; to systematically compare alarms to the alarm philosophy; and to determine the alarm set point, consequence, operator action, priority, and class.
  • ISA-TR18.2.3, Basic Alarm Design, gives 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-TR18.2.4, Enhanced and Advanced Alarm Methods, helps users evaluate when to use enhanced and advanced alarming methods, what benefits they can achieve, and what challenges and costs to expect. Per ISA-18.2, enhanced and advanced alarm methods typically go beyond the basic methods and techniques that are usually, or at least initially, applied. Although significant improvement in alarm system function and performance can usually be made by following the basic alarming methods and principles, in some cases they may not be sufficient to achieve the goals for performance and operator guidance stated in the alarm philosophy.
  • ISA-TR18.2.5, Alarm System Monitoring, Assessment, and Auditing, 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.
  • ISA-TR18.2.6, Alarm Systems for Batch and Discrete Processes, covers the application of alarm management principles in ISA-18.2 to batch and discrete processes. The general principles and techniques described are intended for use in the life-cycle management of an alarm system based on programmable electronic controller and computer-based human-machine interface technology. Following the guidance will help to identify and address alarm specification, design, implementation, and management opportunities that are important to batch and discrete processes. It will also help minimize the generation of nuisance alarms that could complicate and frustrate an operator's awareness, understanding, and response to abnormal situations.
  • ISA-TR18.2.7, Alarm Management When Utilizing Packaged Systems, gives guidance on how to integrate packaged systems into a basic process control system-based centralized alarm system. The scope includes discussing various issues that can arise when ISA-18.2 work processes are applied to facilities where packaged systems are used, and providing guidance on how to successfully apply ISA-18.2 in these situations.

An additional ISA18 technical report will be published in early 2018. ISA-TR18.2.1, Alarm Philosophy, will provide guidance on how to implement the recommendations and requirements described in the "Alarm Philosophy" clause of the standard. It will outline potential approaches and give specific examples that can be included in an alarm philosophy to properly manage the identification, rationalization, detailed design, implementation, operations, maintenance, monitoring and assessment, management of change, and audit life-cycle steps.

For information on viewing or obtaining ANSI/ISA-18.2-2016 and the supporting technical reports, visit www.isa.org/findstandards. For information on the ISA18, contact Charley Robinson, ISA Standards, crobinson@isa.org.

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