Specify performance, manage risk

The June issue of AppliedAutomation discusses specifying performance and the importance of alarm management and process safety.

By Jack Smith June 1, 2019

Product specifications have been central to the decision-making process of purchasing equipment since the dawn of equipment procurement. How many times have end users been locked into using systems from a single source because the spec called for specific hardware and/or software from that vendor? The author of the cover story in this issue of AppliedAutomation discusses the concept of specifying performance instead of parts or equipment.

The author writes, “Many plants and facilities purchase machines and process skids from OEM suppliers. The temptation often is to specify parts and vendors down to a very detailed level, but this can result in higher costs, longer lead times and no performance guarantees from the OEM. A better approach in many instances is to specify performance, while giving the OEM as much leeway as possible in terms of parts and vendors. This is particularly true for plants and facilities with limited onsite staff, and a corresponding heavy reliance on OEM suppliers, often including support contracts.”

The author of the second article in this issue connects the concepts of alarm management and process safety management. “‘Alarm management’ is the application of human factors to design and maintain an alarm system to maximize its effectiveness. ‘Process safety management (PSM)’ is a disciplined framework for managing the integrity of systems and processes that handle hazardous substances. It relies on good design principles, well-implemented automation systems and engineering, operating and maintenance practices,” he writes.

Alarm management and process safety management are about managing risk. The author writes, “There are many interactions between alarm management and process safety management. Each discipline requires a rigorous methodology to properly implement, yet understanding how they interact is equally important to ensure a safe and productive process.”

Author Bio: Content manager, CFE Media