The Power of
Data Driven Alarm Management
In the heart of industrial operations, alarms play a crucial role. They’re essential, alerting us to deviations and critical issues – ensuring a smooth and safe process. However, an overwhelming volume of alarms hinders operators more often than not. Traditional approaches of reviewing the alarms by finetuning and often adding more layers, levels, groups, colours, descriptions, etc. has run its course. We have developed an alternative, smarter way of alarm management. A blend of data science, process engineering and automation know-how, empowering operators to manage the process safely and efficiently.
Understanding alarm overload
Alarms should serve as the vigilant sentinels, canaries in the mine. However, at many customer sites, operators are confronted with an overwhelming load of alarms.
“The easiest thing is to create alarms for everything, but in the end we’re not able to see the forest through the trees anymore.
Site Director, Chemicals company”
In this scenario, the once-vigilant role of alarms becomes less effective. Operators start to simply acknowledge alarms without addressing them. At one customer we saw over 60% of “prio 1” alarms to be acknowledged immediately, raising into question whether these are real “high priority” alarms or not. Having such a load of prio 1 alarms (~25% of alarms were prio 1 for this customer) causes a real risk of letting a real urgency slip through the cracks.
What causes this alarm overload?
So what causes this alarm overload? We have uncovered three main drivers with our customers
- Many different sources
Alarms are predominantly triggered by OT (Operational Technology) systems. These alarms emanate from a diverse mix of systems and machines, each equipped with both standard and custom alarms tailored to specific needs. Many elements of the process also come with preconfigured alarms that are kept in place, further adding volume.
- Complex configuration
Alarm systems can be highly structured with priorities, groups, routings, and more. This complexity, while essential, also creates situations that trigger excessive cascading alarms that are hard to predict during configuration.
- Evolving systems
Even the best initial setups can evolve and drift from their optimal state. As industrial processes change, so do the requirements for effective alarm management. Regular revision of the alarms is key.
Our three-step approach: data, remediation & monitoring
By taking a data driven approach, combined with deep process, automation and OT understanding we have developed a three-step approach to rationalize the alarms in any industrial environment.
- Data-driven insights
The foundation of our alarm management solution is rooted in data. By adopting a data-driven methodology on several weeks of alarm history, we can identify the highest priority painpoints in any alarm setup, without extensive manual review of configurations.This data-driven methodology transforms raw information that is not interpretable for end users; into actionable insights. We’ve built a universal data model for this that connects to any automation systems from which the alarms originate, allowing us to be vendor-independent. Without historical data, you risk optimizing a theoretical configuration that plays out entirely different in the real world. Our approach focuses on the issues that operators face most often, and resolve those rapidly. Delivering value in weeks rather than months.
- Holistic Remediation
Data alone isn’t the solution, but the starting point. By merging insights from the data with automation & process knowledge, we identify the root causes of the alarm tsunami’s and take appropriate action. This can range from alarm config changes in the level 2 systems, to identifying at-risk equipment or proposing process changes to remove structural issues causing recurring issues, previously unnoticed.
- Continuous monitoring & adaptation
Industrial operations are ever-evolving, and so should your alarm management approach. Monitoring the status of the alarm system in real-time can help keep it optimized, and a source of continuous improvement.
What’s in it for you?
Taking a data-driven alarm management approach is the fastest way to identify & resolve the alarm overload in your operator room, letting your operators focus on what matters most. Efficient processes, less clutter, more safety.
Ready to transform your alarm management?
In the dynamic world of industrial operations, standing still isn’t an option. Let’s embark on this journey together, where innovation meets industrial operations. Let’s start the conversation!