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Sinclair Testimony

At our refinery, prior to engaging in Alarm Rationalization, our alarming was practically useless. Our directive on alarms was to configure everything, and if we did not have any suggestions on setpoints, the alarms were configured at range. We daily had over a million recorded alarms across eight board positions. The situation was unworkable and was cited as a major contributing factor to several incidents at the refinery. After rationalizing our alarms, we reduced alarm instances by almost 90%, and our board operators stated that they appreciated that most alarms now indicated actual, actionable situations. However, that did not mean everything was fixed. Even with our much improved situation, our alarm rate was still much too high. In a control room study we asked UCDS to perform for us, we found that our alarm rate still contributed a significant burden to our board operators. We then contracted with UCDS to help us rationalize our boiler house, which we had recently converted over to DCS controls, and in addition UCDS provided us a revised Alarm Philosophy and reinvigorated our alarm lifecycle. This helped contribute to cutting our alarm rates in 2020 by 30% compared to 2019. We still have quite a bit of work ahead of us to reach a robust alarm system, but the gains we’ve made so far have significantly improved refinery operation and contributed to a dramatic decrease in incidents.