In the process industries, poor safety performance has significant business implications. Plants need a comprehensive approach to the safety lifecycle addressing key requirements ranging from HAZOP studies, to operations and maintenance, and finally revalidation with the plant’s historian and maintenance data. This approach is crucial for minimizing risk and realizing savings in process design, analysis and operations.
Safety lifecycle management isn’t easy at process plants. It involves a host of disciplines and workgroups, as well as numerous manual activities. The process takes time, expertise and money to complete. Sustaining safety is even more difficult, as plants are required to keep different documents and lists consistent with each other for years on end.
Rising safety concerns have prompted industrial firms to seek an evergreen functional safety management plan. The focus is on ensuring operations can run for the long term with reliable IPLs to protect assets from a variety of potential hazards.
Plant operating demands
Now, more than ever, operating companies have an urgent need to reduce man-hours, achieve greater consistency and ensure full process compliance. They must manage their performance, locate bad actors and reduce risk.
High costs are associated with functional safety in a complex industrial environment. It’s becoming more difficult to find certified functional safety experts. Moreover, the design and documentation of SIFs can be on the critical path during the process to detail design phases of an automation project.
Process safety requires many resources with different levels of internal and external expertise, along with assorted manual functions for collecting relevant data and performing safety-related studies such as:
Plant operators commonly utilize disparate reports and tools to support the safety lifecycle. Such an approach is expensive, inefficient and costly. Having people retype tag numbers also introduces the potential for errors. These mistakes are virtually eliminated when data is chosen from a pull-down list.
Increasingly, plant owners/operators want to compare their facility’s actual performance against its intended design. They’re seeking ways to monitor plant-wide performance, pinpoint bad actors no matter their location, and sustain reduced risk throughout the life of the plant.
Utilizing digital twin technology
In light of the challenges involved with improving process safety compliance and performance, digitization is needed to leverage data in disconnected documents, optimize SIS assets and manage corporate risk.
HAZOP/LOPA establishes an expectation for plant operations after the recommendations are completed. It serves as a “digital twin” for expected safety performance. The LOPA estimates not only the initiating event likelihood, but also the reliability of each protection layer based on average numbers from data sources such as CCPS, OREDA and others.
To determine whether a plant is operating on par with the average, actual running data from historians and the CMMS must be considered. So long as the HAZOP/LOPA is documented with instrument tag names from the historian and CMMS, it is possible to determine the “demand rate” of various safeguards. If the demand rate is 10 or 100 times more than estimated in the LOPA, then the risk is also that much higher than expected. The answer might be to add another layer or two of protection. Better yet, comparing data against the digital twin for safety will show were the safeguards are okay and where they need to be improved.
While the afore mentioned approach can be enlightening, it is very time-consuming if done manually with spreadsheets and pivot tables on a sustained basis.
Putting the latest tools to work
Today, leading industrial technology suppliers provide process safety solutions that automate the safety lifecycle in order to reduce errors, lower costs, continuously monitor operations for hazard conditions and provide safety alerts in a timely fashion. These innovative, end-to-end solutions provide a real-time view of safety system performance compared with original design assumptions. They employ data from historians and maintenance to validate designs or identify issues so end-users and EPC contractors can reduce safety risk and realize significant cost savings.
The current industry emphasis is digitizing the process safety lifecycle, implementing a sustainable digital twin for safety, and achieving higher performance through efficient operation. This strategy depends on automating the safety lifecycle to reduce errors and improve consistencies. It can also reduce engineering effort up to 45 percent.
The latest integrated tools work in unison to eliminate manual steps and support a more collaborative safety design, which helps bring down costs and expedite project execution.
Benefits to operating companies
Industrial organizations can utilize new safety methodologies to reduce risk and save money—as well as comply with best engineering practices—no matter where they are in the process safety lifecycle.
By leveraging a digitized, automated process safety lifecycle during capital project execution, plant operating companies can:
- Virtually eliminate transcription errors from step to step
- Increase the copy factor between equipment and SIFs
- Lower costs for functional safety engineering
- Improve validation of design assumptions
- Enhance risk-based business decisions
Clearly, industrial firms can make better use of data via a connected, digitized approach to process safety management. They can turn process historian data into valuable safety insights. In this way, they are able to improve hazard monitoring and simplify work to enhance functional safety.
Advancements in process safety are enabling plant owners/operators to take advantage of integrated enterprise systems and effective performance metrics, which accurately reflect the state of risk controls and allow valuable resources to be focused on areas of critical concern.
Thanks to digitization, leading suppliers like Honeywell, couple best-in-class solutions with global expertise. Proven at industrial sites worldwide, their strategic approach allows plants to now connect design assumptions and actual performance within a sustainable “Digital Twin for Safety.” This helps facility operators to be confident their protection layers will work when needed most. The addition of more advanced and continuously running process safety lifecycle management tools, makes process safety monitoring and analysis practical to do all the time.