Practicon has engineered a multiuser software solution to centralise all machinery alarms across the factory in one place called the proTrace Central Alarm System Manager. All PLC Control Systems & Distributed Control Systems (DCS) alarms will be recorded and time stamped on occurrence of the alarm and when the alarm was accepted. This information can be used to show how long an alarm was active for which potentially could impact of the down time or efficiency of the plant. Also frequency of the alarms so the historical data can display how many times the alarm has been raised over a period of time. All of this data can be used proactively to improve on plant efficiency and awareness of issues occurring on individual plants.
Most manufacturing companies have PLC control system automation and DCS automation from different vendors controlling various machines and plant that can be distributed around large areas of the factory and in some cases across multiple factories. The majority of these solutions can be standalone or small systems but in some cases large process control systems. One of the issues that manufacturing companies face is visibility of these plants to know what is going on without having to go directly down to the machine or log in to a multitude of different SCADA systems to interrogate the plant and systems. One of the main areas often overlooked are plant alarms that are a very useful feature of control system automation and DCS automated plants but rarely taken full advantage of. Alarms can be very informative and helpful for the operator as well as the engineering teams and production teams to help understand the production/plant operational difficulties and occurrences of potential stoppages. Alarm fatigue however is also a common issue for operators down on the shop floor and if not closely monitored then important alarms can be missed which could be safety related or early signs of serious machine malfunction or indications the machine maintenance in required.
The proTrace Central Alarm System Manager has the functionality to set priorities of individual alarms so the most important alarms can be ordered in a list of priority. These alarms for example might have to do with plant or process safety or high/low limits of a process or device associated with a particular plant which if activated could be detrimental to the product or process that may require immediate attention.
When the alarms are prioritised in to a group they can be assigned to a severity number code ranging of from 1 to 10 and a colour to easily identify these types of alarms, with 1 being the most severe down to 10 which would be the lowest priority alarms or routine informational alarms.
With the alarms prioritised, actions can be assigned to these groups so when alarms are activated emails notifications and SMS text message notifications can be automatically sent out to raise awareness immediately that an alarm has been generated. The emails and SMS message notifications will have the details of the plant and alarm within the message i.e. name of the plant, date & time of the alarm, alarm name & description and priority.
This is achieved by having the abilities to enter contact details of people to the proTrace Central Alarm System Manager and then select how you want these people to be contacted. This could be just one person or a group of people that require notifications that an event has occurred.
The proTrace Central Alarm System Manager supports a graphical web based view of the alarms in a table format so users of the system can access the current live alarm information and can also access historical data records of previous alarms from standard web browsers on desktop or mobile devices that have access. The graphical view is colour coded so the alarm priority is displayed with the associated colour to easily identify alarms of a serious nature.
Another feature of the proTrace Central Alarm System Manager is alarms can be selected to be automatically escalated in the list of priority order from their initial configured setting. If the alarm remains active for a certain period of time or if the same alarm occurs more than a set number of times over a period of time this alarm can be automatically escalated to the next severity level. If an alarms severity is escalated then contact details of the people associated with that level would now be contacted to raise awareness.
The proTrace Central Alarm System Manager is configured via a dedicated office software application to manage the system which is multiuser configurable and password protected. Configuration parameters for each alarm and associated plant will be available for the customer to modify and select which alarms are to be monitored and what priority they should be assigned to. The customer would also use this application to enter and manage the contact details of the people who will be assigned to the priority group to be contacted in the event of an alarm becoming active.
To prevent plants or machines from raising alarms if they are out of service for maintenance or repair there is a feature to select the associated plant on the system and change its status to be either ‘In Service’ or ‘Out of Service’. When a plant status is ‘Out of Service’ no alarms will be recorded and therefore no email or SMS notifications will be generated for this plant or machine.
Bespoke PLC Control System Solutions Our team of engineers have considerable experience of Siemens S7-400, S7-300, S7-1500 & S7-1200 PLC’s and Allen Bradley Control Logix, Compact Logix and Micro Logix PLC’s as well as HMI (Human Machine Interface) and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) solutions across many industrial sectors. Our applications range from simple […]
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