Everything You Need to Know About Alarm Management

6 July, 2018 | Blog

Marc Tardif

Marc Tardif

Technologist, Optimization and Advanced Control Expert

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An underperforming alarm system reduces operator efficiency, personnel and facility safety and profitability. Often, inefficiencies are caused by improper configuration or inappropriate threshold choices.

Effective alarm management helps:

  • Eliminate bad actors and reduce operator stress
  • Provide operators with relevant information to help them take informed action in a timely fashion while optimizing process performance
  • Correctly prioritize alarms to improve process control efficiency and plant safety
  • Minimize alarm overload to prevent incident escalation
  • Prepare the plant for new insurance regulations and security procedures

Here are answers to some of the questions most frequently asked about alarm management.

1. How long will it take to review the thousands of alarms in our system?

For the first 500 alarms:

  • The Rationalization Committee meets for a total of 30 hours.
  • Another 100 to 150 hours is required for documentation (preliminary analysis, creating files, creating documents, etc.)
  • Implementation typically takes fewer than 80 hours, but can be longer depending on the complexity of the changes to be made (dynamic alarms, conditional alarms, alarm grouping, etc.)

For each additional group of 500 alarms:

  • Rationalization and documentation time is typically cut by 30% to 50%.
  • Software tools can be developed to reduce time even further.
  • Implementation remains the same.

2. Who should be part of the Rationalization Committee?


  • Experienced operator (most important member, as he/she uses the alarms).
  • Experienced facilitator
  • Process Engineer

Where necessary:

  • Control Engineer
  • Maintenance Technician

3. Do we really need all committee members to perform rationalization?

Our experience shows that this is the only way to do it efficiently.

The best solution is to conduct short meetings with all committee members involved in the process (not performing other tasks at the same time).

4. Why do we need an experienced facilitator?

When conducting an alarm review, it is very important to perform an in-depth analysis. Answers like “We’ve always done it that way!” are unacceptable and must be questioned. The facilitator’s job is to dig as deep as necessary to get to the bottom of an alarm (its causes, consequences and severity). A good, experienced facilitator asks the right questions to get the right answers, seeking only the facts rather than interpretations. A good, experienced facilitator is therefore a must to avoid long discussions among committee members. While a client employee can facilitate the review, it’s better to have someone from BBA to provide a fresh perspective.

The BBA team has been working in alarm management for over 10 years and has developed a strong history with this expertise. Our approach uses technology to manage alarms easily and sustainably. Thanks to our proven methodology, clients can maximize their use of existing equipment and resources to achieve objectives.

To learn more about optimizing the performance of your alarm system, read our blog article.

This content is for general information purposes only. All rights reserved ©BBA


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