Do you know the “buzzing sound?” If you’re a plant operator, chances are you do. It’s that badgering thought in the back of your mind when there are multiple asset issues that need to be dealt with at your facility. The mental buzzing sound comes when there are bypassed alarms that you know require attention.
Keep reading to find out how you can reduce the buzzing sound and find a better solution to persistent issue notifications.
Industrial Asset Failure and Alarms
In a previous blogs, “Spoiler Alert” and “It All Adds Up”, we’ve discussed what happens in a typical asset failure scenario, one that requires a reactive response, which looks something like the graph below:
We’ve also discussed the potential consequences of an asset failure, including:
- Potential Safety Hazards
- Potential Environmental Impact
- Risk of Maintenance Backlog
In Spoiler Alert, we wrote about how most organizations implement basic set-point alarms for their asset degradation. In this case, an alarm sounds when asset performance degrades past a certain critical limit and failure is imminent or safe operating boundaries have been exceeded.
The alarm is, of course, a good thing because it allows operators and technicians to know exactly when an asset requires attention. However, as mentioned, this sort of response is largely reactive, and does not allow for timely planning of asset maintenance.
One thing we haven’t talked about in our previous blogs though, is low criticality incicents and alarm bypasses.
Bypassed Alarms: The Buzzing Sound
You know the scenario: an issue is detected and an alarm is produced. The alarm is assessed for criticality and prioritized for attention. Those with the highest priority are scheduled first, with decreasing priorities scheduled accordingly.
Inevitably there are alarms that cannot be addressed in the scheduling either because the criticality ranking is too low; there are contributing factors or dependencies that must be fixed first; or technician time constraints. In less critical situations a technician may even be assigned work, with the work to be completed at the resource’s discretion.
In the above situations, the alarm may be bypassed – the ringing bells are turned off, but the metaphorical red light is still blinking somewhere in the background.
While this seems like, and may actually be, the best or only solution at the time, what it really does is add another layer of complexity for the maintenance team. The engineers must now track, monitor, and address bypassed alarms as well as the regular ones. They must now deal with the annoying mental “buzzing noise” of the unaddressed, low priority bypassed alarms.
Is there an application that will magically clear the backlog of bypassed alarms? No, there isn’t.
A Better Solution for Persistent Issue Notifications
The Dexcent Advanced Analytics System (DAAS) reduces the buzzing by reducing the number of issues that become alarms in the first place - detecting minor fault conditions, and tracking their persistence, before the bells sound. This approach maximizes the repair window by delivering early fault detection supported by reminders and escalations up to the point of failure and alarm.
How can it do this?
DAAS can monitor conditions that require attention but that have not yet reached the alarm state. If these conditions persist, the DAAS configurable workflow control will escalate the issue automatically to any number of notification points – from a reminder to the technician or a message to the supervisor to escalation to the maintenance manager. In a similar vein, the system can automatically raise the criticality of the notification if the condition persists unattended.
Take a look at the image below for an example of how this might work:
Initially an issue is detected. While the problem requires attention, it is not critical enough to require immediate attention. The maintenance team has determined that all will be well if the condition is addressed in the next twenty-four hours. The technician is advised and adds the work to his/her list. If the issue persists past a pre-defined time period, the technician may receive a reminder notice.
Should the fault condition continue past the pre-defined time period, escalation notices will be directed up the chain of command, as appropriate. All this takes place before the asset has reached the alarm set-points; before the asset has failed; and before the buzzing starts.
In quick summary, DAAS automates the escalation process, triggering reminders and escalation notifications based on inaction time intervals and/or declining asset condition.
If you’re interested in learning more about DAAS, how it works with persistent issue notifications please contact Dexcent today.