Radical Alarm Reduction
- Sensors - Flow Meters
- Field Services
- Object Detection
- Public Warning & Emergency Response
While an alarm is intended to provide control room operators with pre-warning of an abnormal situation, many new industrial sites face challenges with an “overactive” performance of their alarm system. Upon completion of commissioning of the Fort Hills site in 2018, Suncor’s control room operators faced average alarm loads 30 times higher than those recommended by alarm management standards and best practices.
These alarm loads, combined with frequent alarm floods caused by plant upsets, resulted in significant operator overload that increased the risk of safety, environmental and production-related incidents at the site.
Suncor is one of Canada’s largest integrated energy companies, specializing in the extraction of oil sand and its subsequent upgrading and refining into high-quality oil products. Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Suncor markets finished products to industrial and commercial customers, along with retail customers through their network of more than 1,500 Petro-Canada gas stations. Suncor’s Fort Hills mine is an open-pit truck and shovel mine that was commissioned in 2018 and capable of extracting 154,000 tons of oil sands per hour, producing 194,000 barrels of bitumen per day.
To achieve a step-change in alarm system performance, Suncor commenced an alarm system improvement initiative, electing to follow a process in-line with standards, specifically ANSI/ISA-18.2-2016, Management of Alarm Systems for the Process Industries.
The first stage of this process was to develop an Alarm Philosophy that documented the intended approach to alarm management for the Fort Hills site so that subsequent stages of the alarm system improvement initiative were performed in a controlled and consistent manner.