Alarm Philosophy Technical Report supports ISA-18 standard

ANSI/ISA-18.2, Management of Alarm Systems for the Process Industries, has found wide and growing global use across the process industry sectors in improving the development, design, installation, and management of alarm systems. To aid in understanding and applying the standard, the ISA18 standards development committee has developed a comprehensive series of ISA technical reports over the past several years.

The latest technical report in that series, ISA-TR18.2.1, Alarm Philosophy, provides guidance on how to implement the recommendations and requirements described in the alarm philosophy clause of the standard. It outlines potential approaches and has specific examples that can be included in an alarm philosophy in order to properly manage the identification, rationalization, detailed design, implementation, operations, maintenance, monitoring and assessment, management of change, and audit life-cycle steps. Like the standard itself, the new technical report is intended for those who (a) manufacture or implement embedded alarm systems, (b) manufacture or implement third-party alarm system software, (c) design or install alarm systems, (d) operate or maintain alarm systems; or (e) audit or assess alarm system performance.

An IEC version of the ISA-18.2 standard, IEC 62682, was completed in 2014 under the leadership ISA18 co-chairs Donald Dunn of Allied Reliability Group as the IEC convenor and Nicholas Sands of DuPont as the IEC secretary/editor. The ISA18 committee then used the IEC version as a starting point for preparing the current 2016 ANSI/ISA version of the standard. Dunn and Sands are once more preparing to lead the IEC team in updating IEC 62682 based on the ANSI/ISA 2016 revision.

In addition, ISA18 confirmed at a face-face meeting in early May that it will begin the process of updating its series of supporting technical reports, which in addition to the new alarm philosophy document include:

  • ISA-TR18.2.2, Alarm Identification and Rationalization, which addresses alarm identification and rationalization for facilities in the process industries for such purposes 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, 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 the 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, which 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, which gives 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, which 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.
  • ISA-TR18.2.7, Alarm Management When Utilizing Packaged Systems, which provides 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.

For information on viewing or obtaining ANSI/ISA-18.2-2016, ISA-TR18.2.1-2018, and the additional technical reports, visit www.isa.org/findstandards. For information on ISA18, contact Charley Robinson, ISA Standards, crobinson@isa.org.

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