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Alarm System Effectiveness

How to Measure it and Why You Should

If You Do Not Measure, You Cannot Manage

You've heard the phrase, "Too many alarms", but how many alarms is too many? A joint research effort between the EEMUA® and the ASM® Consortium established a comprehensive guide to best practices in alarm management, including target metrics for alarm activity. The document, EEMUA Publication 191, Alarm Systems: A Guide to Design, Management, and Procurement, or "EEMUA 191", is the current "de facto" standard for alarm management. The EEMUA alarm performance targets were established through extensive human behavior studies. By observing the time required to respond to different categories of alarms and accounting for that within the other demands of an operating team, the group was able to establish alarm activity targets and other protocols that maximize operator capabilities while mitigating stress. The result is fewer upsets and an operating team that can successfully reverse upsets when they occur. Clear communication of plant condition and enhanced responsiveness of the operating team results in additional capacity without compromising safety, tangible benefits to business performance and corporate vigilance.

EEMUA Targets

The EEMUA recommended alarm system performance metrics are summarized below in a KPI grid created by Ian Nimmo, President of User Centered Design Services®. Ian was a founding member of the ASM Consortium, managing many of the control room studies that led to the creation of the EEMUA benchmarks.

KPI (Key Performance Indicator)

Manageable Steady State Flood State Average Process Alarm Rate % of Time Alarms Exceed Target Average Rate Peak Alarm Hourly Rate Peak Alarm Minute Rate Alarm Activity Priority Distribution


1 per 10 minutes 10 in 10 minutes 5 per hour (120 per day) 0% 15 per hour 2 per minute ~ 5% ~ 15% ~ 80%

Alarms Within 10 Minutes of a Major Upset Chattering Alarms Stale alarms (more than 1 day old) Average Alarms / Controller Unauthorized Changes to Alarm Settings

10 or less 0 0 4 0

EEMUA derived alarm performance metrics (© User Centered Design Services)

Recommended References

EEMUA - Engineering Equipment and Materials Users Association® The EEMUA is a premiere worldwide resource for alarm management information, through their Publication 191 - Alarm Systems - A Guide to Design, Management and Procurement. The first edition was a cooperative effort with the ASM Consortium, the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium, (see below), released in 1999. The second edition will be released on June 21st of this year. Publication 191 includes guidelines for alarm system design and performance measurement. The guide can be purchased at ASM Consortium - Abnormal Situation Management® Consortium The ASM Consortium is devoted to researching and establishing techniques for avoidance and successful management of plant upsets. Many of the people involved with the ASM Consortium were on the forefront of what would become the field of alarm management. UCDS® - User Centered Design Services User Centered Design Services, LLC (UCDS) was organized to provide consulting expertise that dramatically improves the nature of operations in production facilities. UCDS was founded by Ian Nimmo, a founder and the initial Program Director of the ASM Consortium. Common to our employees and affiliates is the application of knowledge of plant operations, industry standards, best practices, regulatory requirements, human factors, and years of knowledge and proficiency in managing abnormal situations.

The Right Tool for the Job

Many products are available to facilitate analysis of alarm data and to manage the process of alarm management. Better products automate the process of generating and comparing the EEMUA benchmarks and continuously improve to embrace the latest trends in alarm management methodology. The LogMate® AMS Alarm Management System from TiPSTM fulfills all of those requirements. Because the success of an alarm management effort largely depends on the tools used, a thorough evaluation of available products is recommended. We invite you to ask us for a guided tour of LogMate. We are confident you will be impressed with what you learn.

TiPS Incorporated 2402 Williams Drive Georgetown, TX 78628




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