Why Choose TiPS?

LogMate is the most reliable, proven software solution since 1990

    • Leadership Participation in Alarm Standards Committees
    • Dedicated Alarm Management Focus
    • Comprehensive Alarm Management Software Solutions
    • Adaptable Services Model
    • Flexible and Extensive Software Connectivity Portfolio
    • Broad Industry Experience

Introduction to Alarm Management

What is a Sensory Threshold?

A sensory threshold is the level of strength a stimulus must reach in order to be detected. Psychologists study sensory thresholds to learn how humans and animals process sensory information, and help determine how we can apply this knowledge to our daily lives. Alarms are a form of stimulus to the human beings that operate and protect your personnel, community, and livelihood.

Textbook definition: An alarm is an announcement to the operator initiated by a process variable (or measurement) passing a defined limit as it approaches an undesirable or unsafe value” – Dr. Douglas Rothenberg

When there is a constant battery of sensation, the human being becomes numb to the stimuli, or desensitized. For the console operator, an alarm which should capture attention can fail to trigger appropriate action if the alarm is lost in an onslaught of alarm activations.

An Eroding Level of Concern

A sense of concern is not usually a condition that one normally wishes to have as the status quo. However, with respect to mission critical vigilance tasks, a timely sense of concern is beneficial to getting the job done. A console operator’s mental workload includes process condition awareness, response to abnormal situations, routine/scheduled administrative tasks, display factors, coworker communication, etc. Given the amount of tasks they are responsible for, it is only expected that as alarm activations increase, an operator’s ability to respond correctly and in time to avoid the negative consequences of an alarm will decrease. Kim Van Camp wrote “If the rate is excessively high, it is probable that some alarms will be missed altogether or the operators will ignore them, thus eroding their overall sense of concern and urgency.”

Van Camp’s key word is eroding – this won’t happen suddenly, so it can often be tough to notice and correct, unless you employ preventative action. A key task of the automation and process safety personnel should be this preventative action to detect conditions which lead to the eroding of vigilance or urgency on the part of the operator.

Article #2 Pic #2Process Safety Model

Alarm rates and Averages in LogMate®

Monitoring the Average Alarm Rate can be a beneficial vigilance task for the personnel accountable for alarm design. Trending the alarm activation rates using a timeline paired with the target rate set in the Alarm Philosophy gives the automation team a fast sense of overall performance. Drilling down into the data at specific points in time can identify potential bad actors and/or process conditions to investigate.

Article #2 Pic #3LogMate® TRAC

Annunciated alarms per hour (ISA 18.2 §16.8), per 10 minutes (ISA 18.2 §16.8), and other date ranges (e.g. day, month) are configured in the ACE Activity Analysis module. Criteria and Timeframes can be saved to generate an analysis.
Configuration forms are available within the Overview Analysis to configure Average Alarm Rate and Peak Alarm Rate. These and other metrics are displayed in a summary report.

Article #2 Pic #4LogMate® ACE overview analysis

In the LogMate® TRAC module, tools are provided to create graphics with Alarm Rates, KPI targets, and even process historian plot lines to provide automation staff high level visibility and datamining functionality to improve the ability of the console operator to manage the process.

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How to report it out to concerned parties

Every LogMate® view that is created can be a report. Reports can be archived and disseminated to stakeholders to support regularly scheduled meetings. These meetings provide a way to help capture attention and ensure increased accountability for maintaining the system.

Make it count

It should be an established fact that an alarm requires action. Average Alarm Rates and Peak Alarm Rates give you visibility into what the console operator is facing. Because the erosion of urgency is gradual, every alarm you include must require the operator to perform an action or the alarm will contribute to this erosion. PayingArticle #2 Pic #6 attention to Average Alarm Rates and then applying good design practices can increase the likelihood that the sensory threshold is at a level where the console operator can protect your personnel, community, and assets.

If you would like a coaching session to discuss how these metrics can help your facility’s alarm system, or would like more information on implementing LogMate® at your facility, click here to send an email to our sales team.



David P, Garcia, TiPS, Inc.

Kelsey R. Wright, TiPS, Inc.