ProcessVue alarm management software from M.A.C Solutions is helping engineers at Drax Power Station identify, monitor and manage process alarms more effectively.

With literally thousands of events each day that need to be recorded, as well as safety-critical processes that need monitoring and managing in terms of process alarms, it is critical that the IT systems at Drax Power Station in Selby,  North Yorkshire, allow engineers to access process data and alarms quickly and easily. This has been achieved  by the implementation of M.A.C Solutions’ ProcessVue alarm management software and printer replacement software.

As a result, engineers can now identify alarm trends more easily and quickly and analyse the causes of plant upsets, should any occur, including the sequence of events (SOEs) leading up to a loss of production.

George Eccleston, lead control and instrumentation engineer at Drax said: “Introducing ProcessVue to the power station has been a gradual process over the last year or so. We have 11 SCADA systems across site. Six of these SCADA systems look after the six steam turbine generators, two are associated with water treatment and common site services, and the remaining three are within our materials handling processes. All of the SCADA systems provide plant operators with real time alarm handling capability. M.A.C Solutions has supported us every step of the way, adapting and tuning ProcessVue to exactly meet our bespoke requirements.”

He continued:?“ProcessVue has been absolutely critical in helping us to quickly identify the sequence of events that lead up to a plant upset or loss of production. By adapting ProcessVue to our requirements, M.A.C Solutions has also helped to de-skill our alarm management processes so that our front-end users can access the information they require quickly and easily.”

Drax Power Station runs on various DCS system technologies linked to eight separate SCADA systems, which handle all process data and more than 70,000 separate alarms. Eccleston said: “Prior to implementing ProcessVue, the alarms coming from our SCADA system were very detailed and did not offer a concise message to our process engineers. We therefore wanted software that would better manage the structure of the alarm message by parsing it and then sending the new, reconstructed message out to our SOE web clients [installed by M.A.C Solutions in 2010]. ProcessVue is one of the key tools enabling root cause analysis of events at the power station.”

He continued: “Drax prides itself on maintaining high availability and reliability of the power station. Loss of production time could be costly and we have set ourselves a long term target for managing any reduction in plant availability, excluding planned outages. Knowing that our engineers can rectify any issues that arise as quickly as possible is essential, and since implementing ProcessVue we have significantly improved our mean-time-to-repair critical items of plant and equipment. In addition, we are also benefiting from having complete transparency of information and the fact that our dependency on paper-based systems and reporting has disappeared.”

“If the plant has a trip on a safety-critical system such as the level monitoring of boiler water, this needs to be recorded for audit and reporting purposes. All safety-critical processes at Selby are monitored and recorded using ProcessVue.

Eccleston said: “Phase One implementation of Alarm Management at Drax was all about moving towards a paperless system by installing printer replacement software, which we did with M.A.C Solutions’ help. Phase Two focused on retrieving the data, receiving the alarms and recording this information on a PC-based system. Phase Three is where we are now, with the ability to recognise different types of alarm messages and to sort these into a database using standard Microsoft SQL tools. What comes next is moving towards automating these reports and analysing the data.”

In May 2011, M.A.C Solutions began implementing the ProcessVue Analyser business intelligence software module at Drax. The reporting features include  event reporting, frequency analysis, standing and chattering alarm reporting, operator response times, and customised reporting. The Analyser Web Client enables the presentation of EEMUA alarm-based KPIs through dashboards. ProcessVue reporting is based on EEMUA 191 guidelines.

Eccleston concluded: “ProcessVue helps us to identify any nuisance alarms, for example, chattering events, which can then be targeted for rectification or repair, as these can often hide genuine alarms. If the software didn’t help to do this, the risk is that key events could be hidden within a nuisance alarm flood or shower…the software has enabled us to identify these nuisance alarms, which in turn has reduced alarm load significantly and to shelve those alarms in a practical logical way.”

M.A.C Solutions

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