Control & Safety

Are you missing alarms?

Does your control room look like this?

Missed alarms often lead to:

  • Lost production
  • Off quality
  • Unplanned¬†shutdowns and even
  • Safety incidents

Effective alarming, early warning and operator intervention is serious business.

  • 1979 – Three Mile Island (US)
  • 1994 – Milford Haven Refinery (UK)
  • 2005 – Texas City Refinery (US)
  • 2005 – Buncefield Oil Depot (UK)
  • 2008 – Imperial Sugar Port Wentworth, GA (US)
  • 2010 – Belle, WV (US)
  • 2010 – Deepwater Horizon (US)

In modern control systems it takes very little effort to add an alarm. Consequently, operators are increasingly overloaded with more alarms than they can handle effectively and inundated with nuisance alarms. These factors increase the likelihood that they miss a critical alarm and make it more difficult to respond to a plant upset, raising the chance of an unplanned shutdown or an accident.

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Many operators are concerned and challenged daily by:

  • Running close to maximum efficiency
  • Costly process interruptions
  • Increasing process automation and complexity
  • Lower safety margins
  • Tighter regulations
  • Fewer experienced operators

According to the ARC Advisory Group:

  • Deviation alarms in regulated industries cost $2,000 to $6,000/alarm
  • U.S. petrochemical industry losses $10-20 billion
  • Annual equipment damage over $2 billion
  • Typical cost of incident $100,000 to $1 million
  • Major refining incidents average $80 million

Do operators complain about:

  • Plant upsets generating a flood of alarms?
  • Missing alarms?
  • How to respond to an alarm?
  • Duplicated alarms for single problem?
  • Incorrect alarms priorities?
  • Alarms when nothing is wrong?
  • Other shifts changing alarm settings?

The first step to calming the control room.

Alarm Rationalization is a systematic work process to evaluate all potential or existing alarms against principles established in an alarm philosophy document. The rationalization qualifies which alarms are legitimate, specifies their design and captures rationale such as cause, consequence and corrective action used to guide operator response.

With proper implementation, this process leads to:

  • Decrease in alarms
  • Elimination of nuisance alarms
  • Prioritization of critical alarms, and
  • Improved operator effectiveness

Get Started

Take the first step.

Provide a safer workplace.

Call our main office at 704-375-4464 or


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