Process safety resources at your fingertips

Recently it seems that everyone is talking about process safety, but more than that, they’re doing something about it. ARC Advisory Group says that strong growth of safety instrumented systems will continue in 2008. Current soft conditions may temper it in subsequent years, but the worldwide market, which was around $1.
By Peter Welander, Control Engineering September 1, 2008

Recently it seems that everyone is talking about process safety, but more than that, they’re doing something about it. ARC Advisory Group says that strong growth of safety instrumented systems will continue in 2008. Current soft conditions may temper it in subsequent years, but the worldwide market, which was around $1.4 billion in 2007, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 12% per year to over $2.5 billion in 2012. This is from a new ARC study, “Process Safety System Worldwide Outlook—Market Analysis and Forecast Through 2012.”

“The safety system market has experienced unprecedented growth for the last two years. Increased demand for oil and gas due to the economic growth of China and India, along with the high price of crude oil, is fueling investments in oil and gas production and in refining, leading to increased demand for safety systems,” according to ARC vice president Asish Ghosh, the principal author of the study.

The complexity of safety systems has increased over time because of efforts to add capabilities and make them easier to work with on an operational basis. (System architects have perhaps learned some lessons from the over-proliferation of alarm functions in control systems.) The result is that companies frequently have to engage outside help when designing new systems or upgrading an existing facility. This can involve a consulting group, system integrators, or a primary automation supplier.

Major process automation suppliers generally have departments, divisions, or even whole subsidiary companies dedicated to process safety. Examples include:

  • ABB—Safety Systems;

  • GE Fanuc—SafetyNet;

  • Emerson—Smart SIS;

  • Honeywell—Safety Manager;

  • Invensys—Triconex;

  • Rockwell—ICS Triplex;

  • Siemens—SIS; and

  • Yokogawa—ProSafe RS.

This list is just a beginning, and there are many more safety suppliers available. (Read this article online at www.controleng.com/archive for live links to all these companies.)

Safety-on-fieldbus platforms for process applications exist or are in development and include AS-interface, ProfiSafe, and Foundation Fieldbus SIF. Proven in discrete applications, these efforts will require additional time to complete and be adopted by end users, but the promise is there.

Resources galore

If you want to do some initial research on the topic, you won’t have to go far. A search at www.controleng.com on “process safety” will bring you some 10,000 results that can be divided into various subtopics.

Also, Siemens, in partnership with Control Engineering and Plant Engineering , has launched a new Website at www.safetybase.com which contains a huge amount of information on both process and discrete manufacturing safety issues.

And, of course, there is the OSHA process safety site at www.osha.gov/SLTC/processsafetymanagement , which lists all relevant standards related to the potential “release of toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases in process invovling highly hazardous chemicals.”

If you prefer face-to-face contact, next month’s ISA Expo in Houston will have a dedicated conference track called Safety Exchange. ISA promises that it will include “peer-reviewed technical sessions covering topics such as safety instrumentation, SIS application, alarm management, competency, and more. Sessions are planned during the conference, including ‘SIS Applications in Oil and Gas Production,’ a presentation that explores the new safety instrumented system engineering techniques required to meet HSE standards for energy facilities.”

All that to say, there is no shortage of resources as you explore this critical area. There is much to discover and learn at your fingertips.

Author Information
Peter Welander is process industries editor. Reach him at PWelander@cfemedia.com .