The aim of this project is to analyse alarm system used in process industry from a human factors and resilient engineering perspective. Interviews, observations and focus groups are made with control room operators.
A number of problems exist with the alarm system and their possibilities to support the operators’ abilities and limitations to work in a proper way. Too many alarms are at hand, especially during major disturbances or stop in the processes.
Also found are irrelevant alarms, alarms without priority, nuisance alarms as well as alarms indicating problems that could not be operated from the control room, alarms from machines not in operation, and alarms with incorrect or even misleading priority. Alarm texts are often perceived hard or impossible to understand. However, some alarms are perceived as useful for process control.
The results are in agreement for different domains, such as nuclear power plants, oil refinery, emergency care, energy production and pulp & paper industry. Adopting a resilient engineering perspective on the design of alarm systems should make it possible to anticipate disturbances before they happen and make it possible for the operators can work in a proactive manner. Another implication of resilient engineering is that the alarm system should be developed into a learning system.
Luleå Technical University – Division Engineering Psychology
Alarm systems, resilience engineering, control room, process industry