New alarm management and key performance indicator (KPI) reporting software for process plants and utilities companies has been launched, which provides clear, relevant and prioritised information to plant ­operators, supervisors and managers, enabling them to make better informed decisions about their processes and plant safety. The new ­software, ProcessVue from Asgard Technologies UK, is now available in the UK through local distributor M.A.C Solutions (UK)

The software is targeted at process engineering industries, including energy and power, metal processing, nuclear, utilities, chemicals, oil and gas, transportation, and facilities management companies.

ProcessVue combines the latest communication, data logging and reporting technologies. It can be used as a standalone application or to bring together multiple disparate systems onto one common platform.

Tim Ricketts, general manager at M.A.C Solutions UK comments: “Our customers need help in collecting, managing and reporting on alarms. This includes centralising alarms from multiple, disparate systems around the plant or across several sites. A typical small process plant may have up to 5,000 different alarms. An offshore platform or petrochemicals refinery can have between 20,000 and 250,000 alarms, which can become a very challenging IT integration issue.”

EEMUA 191 Guidelines

Since its establishment in 1991, EEMUA 191 has become the globally accepted standard for good practise alarm management. ProcessVue reporting is based on EEMUA 191 guidelines. To establish an alarm management system based on these guidelines or to ascertain if a current system is operating effectively and within the guidelines, alarm data must be collected and analysed on a continuous basis. Bringing this data into a usable format for control room operators and reporting on it to alarm managers are two critical functions.

ProcessVue is already being piloted by some major UK-based nuclear and energy utility companies. As Ricketts points out: “These types of companies are keen to improve their alarm management with a view to making more informed decisions about their plant and processes in terms of KPIs.

There is also the issue of health and safety. How a company manages and reacts to critical process alarms could save lives. This is where ProcessVue comes into its own. All the alarm sources are put into a standard, open format so operators and managers can view the KPIs without anyone having to write complex code or script.”

Open standards

Like all products from M.A.C Solutions, ProcessVue is based on open technologies. The software uses the latest .net technology from Microsoft, ensuring compatibility with customers’ operating systems. ProcessVue uses the industry standard SQL database, TCP/IP system architecture and the latest Ajax ‘Zero Footprint’ web-based clients.

“ProcessVue’s architecture has been designed to enable interfacing with almost any control system, bringing all data into a standard configurable format,” explains Ricketts. “This allows simple operator sequence of event (SOE) display and high level KPI reporting and analysis.”

The ProcessVue Analytics feature is a business intelligence software module, offering a range of high level reporting features, including event reporting, frequency analysis, standing and chattering alarm reporting, KPI dashboards, operator response times and customised reporting. ProcessVue can use the latest 64-bit operating systems to perform superfast ‘in-memory analysis’ on vast amounts of data. All active software components run as a Windows service, enabling servers and collector PCs to be logged out for secure operation. Connectivity to third party applications and systems is made easier by using a flexible ‘reconstructor module’. Legacy alarm management systems such as iMAC can benefit by having previously unusable alarm strings reconstructed into a simple format.

As Ricketts concludes: “The 1994 explosion and fires at Texaco’s Milford Haven refinery injured 26 people and caused damage of around 48 million pounds and significant production losses. The key factors that emerged from the investigation were that there were too many alarms that were poorly prioritised. In addition, the control room displays did not help the operators to understand what was happening. In the last 11 minutes before the explosion occurred, the two operators had to recognise, acknowledge and act on 275 alarms. By implementing a common software platform for alarm management and reporting, disasters such as this can be avoided.”