Updated alarm management guidelines

Control Engineering International: Alarm systems design, management, and procurement advice is available in the third edition guide from Engineering Equipment and Materials Users' Association (EEMUA), reports Suzanne Gill from Control Engineering Europe.


The new 2013 Edition of EEMUA 191 offers revised guidance on the design, management, and procurement of effective alarm systems. EEMUA is the Engineering Equipment and Materials Users’ Association. Following the guidance given in the EEMUA 191 third editiThe new 2013 Edition of EEMUA 191 offers revised guidance on the design, management, and procurement of effective alarm systems. EEMUA is the Engineering Equipment and Materials Users’ Association. New additions to the guidelines include chapters on HCI management techniques and alarm configuration, and also appendices covering alarm suppression, geographically distributed processes, intelligent fault detection, requirements for alarms, and supporting checklists. Following the guidance given in the EEMUA 191 third edition should result in better alarm systems that are more usable and result in safer and more cost-effective industrial operations.

EEMUA 191 is considered by many as the globally accepted guide to good practice for alarm management. It should be of interest to those responsible for safety and quality improvement through efficient and effective use of alarm handling systems, or those working directly or indirectly with alarm systems in chemical, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and other process industries; the energy exploration and generation sector; and related industry sectors.

Commenting on the guidelines, Clive Tayler, EEMUA chief executive, said: "A particular strength of EEMUA 191 is that it was developed by the users of alarm systems in industry. The first and second editions have sold thousands of copies worldwide, formed the basis of training courses internationally, and led to the production of related publications, such as EEMUA 201, which deals with human-machine interfaces."

Broadened guidelines

Commenting on some of the highlights of the revised guidelines, John Lilley, Technical Lead - Electrical, Instrumentation & Control at EEMUA said: “In the third edition we have broadened the guidelines. In addition to looking at continuous processing industries, we are also now looking at batch and geographically distributed industries, such as gas and water.”

This is a significant extension to the scope of the guide, which previously focused more on the petrochemical and power industries. “We have added around 80 pages to the original 170-page publication. It has been completely revised and reviewed by EEMUA’s instrumentation and control technical committee. We also involved an industry review group—consisting of the main alarm vendors—who had input into the revised guidelines. The Health & Safety Executive in the UK has also reviewed it in detail,” said Lilley. A spokesperson from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) said: “This guidance sets out sensible, proportionate, reasonable, and balanced advice to owners on the design, management, and procurement of alarm systems.”

Lilley said that EEMUA has looked in detail at the principles of alarm design in the system of alarm management and added a new chapter on human-computer interface (HCI) management techniques. “There is a great deal of work being done on human factors currently in the area of standardization,” he said. “We are well positioned in that regard because we have already produced EEMUA 201, which deals with human-machine interfaces.

“There were no standards for alarm management, so EEMUA 191 really has filled a gap. Indeed, subsequent standardization efforts have all followed the principles and the assumptions of EEMUA 191,” Lilley said.

The subject of alarm suppression has also been covered in more detail in the third edition. “We have included a flow chart to show the basic sequences for suppression,” explained Lilley. “So wherever their starting point, users have a flow diagram that can be used to identify whether alarm masking is necessary, and advising on what type of masking to employ. The guidelines also discuss the different methods of suppression, and offer a series of general suppression rules that should be applied to alarms.”

- Suzanne Gill is editor of Control Engineering Europe. This article originally appeared at www.controlengeurope.com and was edited for the Control Engineering International pages for the North American edition of Control Engineering. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, CFE Media, Control Engineering, mhoske@cfemedia.com.




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