Alarm Management


Document alarm management practices for a pharmaceutical facility consisting of multiple reactor trains and support utilities controlled by DeltaV and Provox DCS systems, Rockwell PLCs, and standalone hard-wired alarms. Analyze systems and provide overall Alarm Management Master Plan.

  • Equipment including multiple reactor trains, centrifuges, and dryers.
  • Support equipment including purified water system, cooling towers, scrubber, thermal oxidizer, vacuum system, and hydrogen supply system.
  • Four DeltaV controllers and nine DeltaV operator stations, integrated with a Siemens BAS, Provox DCS, multiple Allen-Bradley PLCs, and various standalone hard-wired alarm lights and horns.

The initial project was to investigate the facility’s systems and provide recommendations per ANSI/ISA-18.2-2009 Management of Alarm Systems in the Process Industries. ACE benchmarked the current state of the systems, analyzed the alarm patterns, and conducted interviews with senior equipment operators. The results of the investigation and recommended remediation steps were compiled into a comprehensive report. The investigation and analysis were completed under budget and allowed sufficient time for implementing several of the recommended remediation steps, including:

  • Compile a master list of plant alarms.
  • Identify and label standalone hard-wired alarm lights and horns.
  • Identify and meet regulatory requirements for safety and environmental alarm systems.
  • Develop an Alarm Management Master Plan.
  • Modify the DeltaV system alarms.

An Alarm Management Master Plan was drafted in collaboration with plant personnel. The Master Plan includes specific criteria for alarm priorities, alarm limits, guidelines for alarm indications, and monitoring and maintenance of the alarm systems.

The analysis found that the DeltaV system generated eighty percent of the total daily alarms. As such, efforts were focused on modifying the DeltaV alarm systems. Changes to the DeltaV system alarms’ configuration reflected the Master Plan and included adding preconditions to alarms, removing nuisance alarms, adjusting alarm priorities, modifying the manner in which alarms from skids and other alarm systems were communicated, and providing SOPs for suppressing alarms.

Existing system documentation was updated to reflect the alarm system changes. Testing support was provided to verify system changes.


Prior to this effort, the plant averaged more than 5,000 alarms per day, or an average of one alarm every 17 seconds. This project resulted in a 90% decrease in average total daily DeltaV system alarms. The Alarm Management Master Plan is in the final approval stages. A follow-up project is ongoing to implement additional alarm system changes and the Master Plan.