Originally published on GMI blog by GM International| February 26, 2020
The title of Project Functional Safety Manager indicates a safety-linked role requiring technical leadership skills. In particular, it requires people with top-level skills in functional safety management and in the automotive sector. Achieving functional safety and projects that meet adequate levels of SIL is no simple task. First of all, the technical and managerial tasks throughout the life cycle of the safety system need to be identified. Once they have all been identified, the organizations and roles responsible for these tasks have to be established. The role which stands out above all others is the Project Functional Safety Manager (PFSM) who is responsible for:
managing the product life cycle with particular attention to functional safety;
analyzing technical requirements and specific customer needs;
applying methods to improve production processes and software development.
Just as each project has a project manager, every functional safety project should have its own independent functional safety manager. Any issue related to functional safety, such as a few functional tests for example, should take precedence over issues related to project management.
Functional safety management can be implemented either within a single project or as part of a company's overall operating procedures. In either case, end users (i.e. engineering companies, system integrators, product suppliers and any other body involved in one or more phases of the safety system life cycle) have to put functional safety management in practice and also document it in a specific plan. Product suppliers have to comply with the IEC 61508 standard as a basis for functional safety management. System integrators have to refer to specific standards such as IEC 61511 or IEC 62061. End users, or their technical partners, have to manage functional safety during risk analysis and operational phases.
In short, functional safety management ensures that the players involved each perform the right job, at the right time, using the right tools, and following the right procedures and guidelines.
The role of the functional safety manager in the automotive sector
One of the most sensitive sectors in terms of safety is the automotive sector, where the project functional safety manager is responsible for carrying out safety-related tasks on critical systems and products. These are set out in the requirements of the ISO 26262 standard, which is the answer to the increasing levels of complexity found in car electrical and electronic safety systems. The standard regulates the use and functional safety of electrical and electronic systems in motor vehicles as well as the tasks to be carried out by suppliers of generic products, such as hardware and software components or development tools used mainly in the automotive industry. Requirements related to functional safety are a challenge for manufacturers, who not only have to integrate them right from the earliest stages in the development process, but also have to ensure functional safety all the way from the design stage to the end of the operating cycle.
In this scenario, the project functional safety manager works in conjunction with the customer’s safety organizations and product development teams. The PFSM’s outputs include a definition of the product architecture, the safety plan, preliminary risk and safety analyses, as well as verification and validation tasks. Further tasks include drawing up project costs, technical responsibility for functional safety, the ability to adhere to guidelines and work instructions agreed with the customer.
It is also crucial that a Project Functional Safety Manager be able to convert software and process quality guidelines into practice, starting from the IATF 16949 standard and from models such as SPICE Automotive (compliant with ISO/IEC 15504) and CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration), up to an approach based on other tools indicated by the customer (e.g. on-site evaluation, supplier self-assessment, etc.).
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Originally published on GMI blog by GM International| March 25, 2020
Smart devices represent a great opportunity to modernize your systems. The smart diagnostics that all our systems have can report faults and provide vital information in real time. For an industrial setting, by smart device we mean a device that makes use of new micro-electronics to act as a digital system that is able to execute a great many operations and provide information related to various measurements.
Examples include microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), the Internet of Things (IoT), and wireless sensors and actuators distributed in a wireless sensor network (WSN) that facilitates the connection of peripheral devices in areas of limited size and with lower levels of traffic and extremely reduced consumption levels. Process equipment is seeing an increasing integration of smart valves, sensors and other devices installed as a part of their protection systems.
The technologies that we can generically call “smart” enhance the performance of protection systems when used in combination with other specific devices (e.g. barriers, isolators, I/O systems, controllers, amplifiers, signal converters), industry standards (ANSI/ISA 84.00.01, IEC 61508, IEC 61511), and applicable methodologies (e.g. layers of protection analysis, or “LOPA”).
Another interesting aspect of smart devices is their ability to provide a great deal of data that can be processed later by monitoring software. This type of software transforms this raw data coming from smart devices into information that can be used.
The issue of maintenance
Traditional field devices that make up a Safety Instrumented System (SIS) are often obsolete. For example, it often happens that they aren’t able to provide information to systems of automation, supervision, maintenance, or enterprise management. This means that, in order to control a device, you need to send a worker out into the field, where they often simply need to check a simple on/off or 4-20 milliamp signal. Fortunately, certain sensors, positioners, actuators and measurement devices installed in the last 10-15 years incorporate a minimal level of diagnostic capability. In other cases, field devices can be retrofitted with smart features or replaced. In certain cases, a SIS that is able to gather more diagnostic data from each field device can significantly improve the quality of the data they provide, and this can ultimately make the lives of maintenance staff and those running the equipment quite a bit easier. Within this landscape, the introduction of smart devices needs to involve a careful process of change management. You need to take account of any malfunctions or other process issues that could arise. Generally, this is done by way of testing and monitoring the SIS and related field devices (e.g. sensors, analysis and measurement devices, valves, logic controllers, etc.). Smart device diagnostics make great leaps in quality possible on multiple fronts. It can point to a device functioning improperly or a communication failure, can predict an impending failure, and can facilitate the task of designing redundant systems.
The importance of software and skills Without a plan that is supported by adequate analysis tools, the flow of data from smart devices can quickly overwhelm users and operators to the point that they start to ignore useful information. Fortunately, there are software tools that can monitor safety and point to risks in real time, monitor changes in risk levels over time, and provide emergency-response plans in the event of safety incidents. But like any other technology, this software is only useful when its users possess the skills needed to understand process risks, SIS automation, and safety requirements. The challenge for maintenance managers is that of finding a balance between the implementation of automated systems that truly protect the plant, people, and the environment and the adoption of particularly advanced platforms. The optimal solution is to make use of smart design, use specific safety-monitoring software and, above all, adequately train personnel.
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Originally published on GMI blog by GM International| January 29, 2020 The stringent requirements for the Energy and Oil & Gas sectors, regulatory obligations and technological acceleration are the main factors affecting the global industrial safety market, which is expected to grow over the next 5 years. According to a recent report by Zion Market Research, the global industrial safety market is expected to rise from $ 3.04 billion in 2018 to reach $ 5.41 billion by 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.6% in the period 2019-2025. The implementation of safety measures by many governments is a key factor in boosting this market, and is only partially hampered by the need for substantial upfront investments. In contrast, the growing acceptance of workplace safety regulations, particularly in developing countries, is opening up new growth opportunities for the main market players such as ABB, Balluff, Emerson, Euchner, Fortress Interlocks, GE, Harting, Hima, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Omron, Pepperl+Fuchs, Proserv Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric, Siemens, and Turck Yokogawa. The report took into consideration 5 types of system: Burner Management Systems (BMS), Fire & Gas Monitoring and Control systems, High Integrity Pressure Protection Systems (HIPPS), Turbo Machinery Control (TMC) and Emergency Shutdown (ESD) systems. In terms of products and components, 7 types were analyzed: safety sensors, emergency devices, safety relays/modules/controllers, programmable safety systems, safety valves, safety switches, and other accessory devices. Emergency shutdown systems and programmable safety systems (IEC 61508-certified PLCs with enhanced diagnostics and redundancy) are estimated to be the fastest-growing segments, with a highly significant share in 2018. Outlet industry, energy at the forefront As regards outlet industry, the report examined leading sectors such as Oil&Gas, Food&Beverage, water and wastewater, pharmaceutical products, energy production, chemicals, mining activities and others. The electricity-generation sector dominated the global industrial safety market in 2018. After all, electricity production plants are strategic for national economies and involve high risk to human life and to the environment. Systems and products for burner management, fire&gas monitoring and emergency shutdown systems are widely used in power plants to monitor critical situations and ensure safe operating sequences during plant activity, start-ups and shutdowns. Geographical areas In 2018, Europe was the area with the most widespread industrial safety systems. This market leadership can be attributed to the rigorous regulatory standards and to the directives implemented by governments throughout the area. North America has also become a mature market, as industrial safety systems and products are widely used and the installation of advanced safety systems is made mandatory by government regulations. The Asia-Pacific region looks set to record the fastest growth rate over the coming years, also due to the growth of urbanization and industrialization, particularly in the emerging economies of India and China, which are already producers and primary consumers of safety technologies. For Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, the report expects more moderate growth. The governments of Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates are nonetheless promoting the widespread use of safety technologies in various industrial sectors.
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Originally published on GMI blog by GM International| October 24, 2018 “It can’t happen to us.” “The chances of an explosion are slim to none.” “We proofed most of our locations, so we should be good.” These are just a few examples of how a false sense of security can begin to creep into an organization. But take a moment to think about it. The first definition of “hazardous” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “depending on the effect of unpredictable and unanalyzable forces in determining events”. In other words: you rarely see a disaster coming. While that may be true in general, when it comes to hazardous locations, we already know for a fact that they pose threats. So we take measures to ensure that we mitigate every possible risk. This is where intrinsic safety comes into play. Fire is the most common hazard across industries. At times, the fire risk is quite obvious. For example, when a company handles or produces flammable gasses like propane or hydrogen. However, other risks aren’t that obvious. Dust, for instance, can also be highly flammable. When you don’t factor in less common risks, you expose yourself to disasters. Let’s take a look at the most common dangers a false sense of security poses. 1. A Devastating Explosion This is definitely the most obvious risk. And, unfortunately, the one thing most people think can’t happen to them. Still, this list of industrial disasters is just one piece of evidence to the contrary. If you simply skim it, you will see that no industry is safe. Also, keep in mind that this page only lists the truly memorable and catastrophic events that killed at least tens of people. But in order for a workplace to be labeled as unsafe, it doesn’t need to have the potential to kill tens or hundreds of people. One is enough. This is definitely a list you don’t want to be on. 2.Fines and Litigations When your workplace is deemed as unsafe , you’re not only endangering your business and your employees. You’re also endangering people and assets nearby. If a government control discovers irregularities in the protection of your hazardous areas, you will definitely be fined a hefty amount. Here’s one example: an oil refinery was fined more than $83.000 for an explosion that injured several people. The example is very recent: it happened in the beginning of October 2018. Add such fines to the other losses your company can incur: material and asset loss, potential litigations brought on by employees and, of course, loss of personnel. Such disasters are typically followed by mass resignations. Who would want to work in a place that could cost them their life? 3. You Pay Higher Insurance Premiums As it happens with any asset, whether owned by a company or an individual, the lower the risk, the lower the cost of insurance premiums. When you take every possible measure and ensure that intrinsic safety is taken seriously in all your hazardous locations, your insurance company will certainly give you a better deal. The right kind of safety protocols are always properly documented. So all you have to do is provide your insurance company with these documents. 4. You Don’t Need to Shut Down Production so Often If your intrinsic safety measures are not on point, you will most likely have to shut down production and ventilate the area whenever you do maintenance or diagnostic work. On the other hand, if your intrinsic safety is done properly, you won’t have to face any business or production disruptions. Final Recommendations Intrinsic safety is the best way to minimize the dangers above. IS design is what minimizes both heat and power creation, thus ensuring that the triangle of fire is never completed. Ideally, your equipment should be IS-certified and your entire system should be designed according to the IS standards. Intrinsic safety should never be taken lightly. When done right, it has the ability to keep you and your staff safe, reduce your costs and enable you to perform maintenance on live equipment.
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Originally published on GMI blog by GM International| October 08, 2019 Machine safety, harm, hazard, risk; risk assessment, analysis, evaluation and reduction. Let’s take a closer look at these concepts and at the series of steps involved in the assessment of risk. According to CEN 414:2017, there are three types of European standards on the safety of machinery: type-A standards (basic safety standards giving the basic concepts); type-B standards (general safety standards dealing with one safety aspect or one type of safeguard that can be used across a wide range of machinery); and type-C standards (which deal with detailed safety requirements for a particular machine or group of machines). The ISO 12100 standard ISO 12100:2010 is a type-A standard and is an international standard on the safety of machinery. The concept of machinery safety considers the ability of a machine to execute its intended function throughout its life cycle and whereby risk has been adequately reduced. The standard provides indications on the decisions to be made for the safety of all types of machinery and on the types of documents required in order to verify execution of risk assessments. These indications are based on knowledge of and experience with the design, use and related accidents, injury, and other risks of the machine. Application of this standard alone is not enough to ensure compliance with fundamental requirements of health and safety established by the machinery directive but does, nonetheless, establish an essential framework for the proper application of said directive. Definitions First of all, we must understand the difference between risk and hazard. A hazard is an intrinsic property of the context or object of study not related to external factors and which, due to its properties or characteristics, has the potential to cause harm. Risk is a probabilistic concept, i.e. the likelihood of a certain event that could cause harm. ISO 12100 uses the following fundamental definitions: Harm: physical injury or damage to health; Hazard: potential source of harm; Hazardous situation: circumstance in which a person is exposed to at least one hazard; Risk: combination of the probability of occurrence of harm and the severity of that harm; Residual risk: risk remaining after protective measures have been implemented; Tolerable risk: accepted level of risk following a risk evaluation. The numerous types of hazard and potential consequences are listed in Annex B to the standard. In short, the hazards identified during the risk analysis process may be categorized as electrical or thermal in nature, or due to noise, vibration, radiation, materials and substances, failure to observe the principles of ergonomics, use of equipment, or a combination of other hazards. Click here to discover the GMI Safety Academy! Risk assessment Risk assessment is a process of logical steps in order to systematically analyze and evaluate the risks associated with a particular machine. The iteration of this process may point to the need to eliminate the hazards where possible and to adequately reduce risks by implementing protective measures. A protective measure is a measure intended to achieve risk reduction that is implemented by the designer or the user. The risk assessment process requires information related to the description of the machine, applicable standards and regulations, experience of use, and relevant principles of ergonomics. The concept of risk as defined by ISO 12100 also implies the existence of a source of hazard and the probability that it could result in harm. Therefore, the risk formula is (R) RISK = (P) PROBABILITY x (H) HARM. The probability of an incident alone is not sufficient to define either the risk or the extent of the harm, because risk is the combination of both of these factors. The numerical measurement of the level of risk (R) leads to the implementation of preventive and protective measures in relation to the risk assessment. This process is largely based on matrices that help to implement the measures that result in a reduction of risk. Risk analysis, evaluation and reduction Risk analysis, in turn, takes place in two stages. The first is risk analysis, which includes determining the limits of the machine, identifying the hazards, and estimating the risk in order to determine the probable severity of the harm and the likelihood of it occurring. The second stage is risk evaluation, which entails determining whether it is necessary to reduce the risk based on the information to come out of the risk analysis. After evaluating risk, it is then necessary to reduce risk, the objective of which is to remove the hazard or reduce the severity of the damage and the probability that it will occur. During the risk reduction process, adequate protective measures are implemented in a given sequence. An iterative process is developed in order to reduce risk, starting with application of protective measures implemented by the designer and integrating, where necessary, the protective measures of the user.
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Originally published on GMI blog by GM International| July 24, 2018 SIL 3 is a topic that routinely comes up in discussions related to the development of safety-critical systems. Do I need SIL 3 capabilities? How do I know? What will it cost? These are questions that everyone involved in safety-critical applications is confronted with and correct answers are critical to maximizing the efficiency and reliability of a process plant. Let’s take a look at the most important aspects of SIL 3 and find out exactly what they mean for your organization. WHAT IS SIL 3? Safety Integrity Levels (SILs) are a measure of the impact that a Safety Instrumented Function (SIF) has over the risk associated with a specific hazard. The higher the SIL level is, the more efficient that function will be at reducing the risk it mitigates. SIL 3 is one of the safety integrity levels defined by the IEC 61508 standard. It is defined by a risk reduction factor of 1.000 – 10.000 of failure on demand and 10-8 – 10-7 for probability of failure per hour. It is a quantitative assessment of the acceptable failure level for a security function and it is therefore representative for its safety and reliability. IEC 61508 defines 4 safety integrity levels, labeled from SIL 1 to SIL 4. SIL 3 is the highest safety integrity level that is economically feasible for most industrial operations. WHY IS SIL 3 IMPORTANT? The safety integrity level (SIL) of a Safety Instrumented Function (SIF) in a Safety Instrumented System (SIS) is not chosen at random, or on a best-effort basis. Instead, the appropriate SIL level is determined, based on a number of methods such as Safety Layer Matrix (SLM), Layer of Protection Analysis (LOPA) or Fault Tree Analysis (FTA). These methods take into account the types of accident that can occur within your organization, their probability, the way they are related and their consequences in terms of cost. The SIL level that they recommend is therefore the level appropriate for the risks that your organization faces. In other words, any given safety integrity level (including SIL 3) is not just a metric that you should aspire to, but a direct reflection of the risk that your organization faces. Within the framework of IEC 61508, risk is defined in terms of cost per time unit. If SIL 3 is determined as the appropriate SIL, it means that SIL 3 is the minimum integrity level that can reduce the risk (that is, the cost per unit of time) associated with a particular hazard to an acceptable level. WHAT DOES SIL 3 MEAN IN TERMS OF DEVICE CHOICE? SIL 3 is not the rating of a device, but of the function that a device (or a set of devices) performs. That being said, only certain devices can be used to implement a given safety integrity level. For SIL 3 functions, only devices that are rated for SIL 3 operation can be used or redundance devices with lower SIL. IS SIL 3 EXPENSIVE? Evaluating the cost of a safety function is a difficult task, because what you need to consider is not just the upfront cost of implementing it, but also the cost associated with the risk that it mitigates. However, the former is an immediate cost, whereas the latter is essentially a potential cost. SIL 3 is more expensive than either SIL 1 or SIL 2. Implementing and maintaining it incurs additional operating costs, requires a specific set of knowledge, skills and processes to be developed within the operating team and devices rated for SIL 3 use can be more expensive. Consequently, SIL 3 is only recommended under critical and specific circumstances. However, the cost of not implementing the appropriate SIL significantly outweighs the cost of implementing it. CONCLUSIONS SIL 3 is a high safety integrity level that is recommended only under special circumstances. However, where it is deemed appropriate, SIL 3 is critical to ensuring the adequate safety of an operation.
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Originally published on GMI blog by GM International| July 24, 2019 Traditional industry is gradually going digital. It’s not just a matter of investment, but also of approach. Companies need to take proactive measures to protect themselves, using cybersecurity, by ensuring that physical systems are integrated with logical ones. Moreover, many control devices (PLC, RTU, HMI/SCADA), sensors, instruments and embedded systems are networked and at the same time are crucial for the operation of machinery and process facilities. While these connected devices help to raise productivity, efficiency and value, on the other, extended connectivity does of course increase IT risk. One of the consequences of this new paradigm is that always-on status, that we already enjoy at an individual level, can be extended to the manufacturing world. Protecting data, machinery, process facilities, programmes, products and people must therefore be part of an extended strategy, in which monitoring sensors and video-surveillance, remote-control, anti-intrusion, and anti-burglary systems all converge. The first challenge is to become aware that Operational Technology (OT) networks and factory systems have to be protected, in order to ensure high availability for the process facility itself in an integrated form with IT systems. The next step is to make security one of the system requirements for those who design, develop, use and maintain such systems. The concept of security by design (i.e. that any system is designed from the outset to be secure) should be present at every stage in a system's life cycle. Such an approach involves designing predictive and reactive systems that can anticipate threats and implement effective and timely intervention plans. Given the proliferation of the Internet of Things and the over 20 billion devices expected to be connected by 2020 (according to the most authoritative forecasts), inevitably this scenario leads to physical security-related problems. Also, critical infrastructures, remote maintenance platforms, automated production systems, to name but a few examples, require in-depth new knowledge. And by expanding interconnected technologies, we undoubtedly expose ourselves to increased risks. Traditional technologies, which are based on the assumption that they have already encountered similar security threats in the past, are inadequate or not strong enough to counter threats that are more subtle and harder to identify than they used to be. Data integrity is a very serious issue today. Even when instrumental, electronic and IT components seem to be verified, safe and functioning, they can cause functional issues (that may not manifest immediately) when installed in industrial plants, infrastructures and means of transport. Businesses need to be aware that any vulnerability in their IT network may lead to a physical security breach. Cybersecurity and physical security are connected and work much better when integrated. Furthermore, physical security systems are more efficient if equipped with smart features. A key factor in obtaining rapid uniform responses could be to set up new platforms which will alert staff quickly and facilitate information exchange. For example, a fire alert in a control room can generate a signal on 3 levels – security, safety, emergency – handling images, data and actions that immediately correlate security with process-facility safety.
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Originally published on GMI blog by GM International| December 27, 2018 Any lesson about safety and explosion risks always starts with the fire triangle or the explosion pentagon. We know that a few variables are needed in order to start a fire or an explosion. Naturally, the safety industry is focused on removing one of these elements in order to mitigate the risk of explosion or fire. If you take a look at the images above, you will see that fuel or heat are the most likely candidates across industries. And how do you go about removing fuel or heat from the equation? Well, most people think it’s all about removing power. In fact, it’s a common industry-wide misconception that safety systems are designed to go to safety by removing power (de-energize to trip or to fail-safe). Another erroneous conclusion is that power supply failures lead to safety. This isn’t only untrue: it’s also potentially very dangerous and damaging. First of all, this assumes that all safety functions are de-energized to trip or to safety (DTS). But this assumption completely leaves out ETS (Energized to Activate) safety functions. Take the F&G systems instance: they are the perfect example of ETS safety. Secondly, it’s worth to note that a power supply failure can be defined in more ways than one. It can be a low failure, a high failure or it can be somewhere in between. A high failure or ‘over-voltage’ in a power supply will lead all the connected units to go high causing harm to field instruments and subsequent systems making the safety function unavailable. A failure leading to an intermediate unknown status could also prove quite dangerous potentially creating a DU Failure. SIL3 – Redefining Safety and Availability SIL stands for Safety Integrity Level. It measures safety system performance or, in other words, the failure on demand probability of a SIS or SIF. SIL does not apply to individual components, only to complete systems. The number near the acronym is its level. There are currently four levels. The higher the level, the better the performance of the system and the lower the potential dangerous failure on demand probability. Also, it is important to remember that a higher SIL level also means a more complex and more costly system. However, perhaps the most important feature of SIL3 is Safety-availability. Availability is a must in Safety Systems Power Supply (in fact, for all PS). It’s a cornerstone feature for ETS functions of course, but also for DTS functions. When you use a SIL3 system means that the safety availability will be 10x higher than a SIL2 or a 100x higher than a SIL1 allowing the safety system to protect your employees and your assets. Therefore the availability and over voltage protection of the power supply will be crucial to select and configure correctly in able to provide you the necessary reliability for all SIF/SIS. The good news for the end user, is that he can enjoy a completely safe system (you should NEVER make compromises when it comes to safety), one that is 100% compliant with SIL regulations and also enjoy unparalleled availability. GM International made its mission to provide its clients with state-of-the-art safety devices that don’t just keep their facilities safe, but also ensure that operations run smoothly. In an era of cutthroat competition in any industry, being able to leverage all advantages is more important than ever. GM International always provides expert advice about the best SIL3 solution; it takes great pride in its turnkey solutions that help its clients with their safety needs and also give them the vantage point they need.
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Originally published on GMI blog by GM International| July 06, 2018 Condition Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance are two concepts that often come up in the context of safety engineering. Both are related to ensuring permanent availability of safety-critical equipment, with minimal or even zero interruption. In practice, this translates into a need to ensure prompt and efficient maintenance which resolves – or, ideally, prevents – any defect in a timely manner. Maintenance is a component of any system’s lifetime and it is critical to ensuring its adequate and safe functioning. However, maintenance costs time and money, and performing, it may requires restricting or interrupting a system’s functioning. Well-founded maintenance is an engineering practice, whereas unnecessary maintenance is not only a waste of resources, but it is also detrimental to the functioning of a system as a whole. This translates to two basic questions: what procedures are necessary, and when? CONDITION MONITORING AND PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE Condition Monitoring is one of the most useful methods to provide an answer to these questions. It refers to the continuous monitoring of the equipment’s state and operating parameters, usually through dedicated sensors and monitoring tools. Its end goal is to identify changes that indicate damage, incorrect configuration or other safety-impacting conditions, so that corrective maintenance repairs can be performed before a failure gets the chance to occur. Exactly which parameters are monitored depends, of course, on application and equipment: they include, for example, temperature and vibration parameters for electrical drives, or SNR levels for communication equipment. Not only can these parameters indicate an impending failure, but they can also indicate which components are most likely to be at fault, thus enabling engineers to plan and target their maintenance operations with more accuracy. Data obtained through Condition Monitoring provides valuable information about the current state of a system. But its value is not limited to evaluating an equipment’s condition at a given time. Its evolution can be used to anticipate how an equipment will perform and how it might degrade – and to schedule maintenance according to these expectations. This is known as Predictive Maintenance and it is based on anticipating the future evolution of a system – in other words, on anticipating what failures may occur and what maintenance needs to be performed in order to prevent them from occurring. Unlike Preventive Maintenance, where maintenance operations are scheduled based on equipment-specific knowledge, statistics and legal or internal requirements, the Predictive one relies on data about a system’s state and evolution to schedule maintenance operations as they are needed. Predictive Maintenance enables more efficient, longer-term planning for maintenance operations and makes it easier to define operational maintenance goals and to allocate maintenance resources. Examining data from hundreds or thousands of sensors, gathered over months or even years, is well beyond the capabilities of human operators. Furthermore, the mathematical models, which describe an equipment’s evolution (and predict potential faults) based on such a wealth of data, are generally prohibitively complex to be used by humans. Consequently, in recent years, Predictive Maintenance has come to rely increasingly on Machine Learning techniques. Machine Learning refers to a set of statistical techniques, which enable computer systems to learn how to identify and classify patterns in large volumes of data and to make predictions based on it. CONCLUSION Condition Monitoring refers to the process of monitoring a system’s state in order to identify changes, which would indicate damage or an impeding failure. It enables operators to identify and correct problems (through repair and maintenance procedures) before they cause equipment to fail. Predictive Maintenance refers to planning corrective maintenance based on predictions about the evolution of a system. These predictions are based on data obtained through Condition Monitoring, and on system-specific knowledge. In other words, Predictive Maintenance is one of the ways in which Condition Monitoring can be leveraged. The two are complementary and refer to different ways of using and acting upon sensor data. Both are reliable methods to ensure operational safety at every level, including in hazardous areas . However, it is worth iterating that both of them depend on the quality and integrity of sensor data: the quality and safety of the sensors, measurements and transmission chains is critical to their success.
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Safety Relays are devices that implement safety functions. In the event of a hazard, a safety relay will work to reduce the risk within an acceptable level. When an error occurs, the safety relay will initiate a safe and reliable response. Each safety relay monitors a specific function. By connecting it to other safety relays, it is possible to achieve a total monitoring of a machine or plant. Safety relays are a simple and efficient way to meet existing safety standards, resulting in safe operations for the personnel and the equipment as well as a long service life. Risk reduction should be a priority for any business, in order to protect the employees and reduce the risk of costly accidents or equipment replacement. Generally, if a risk can be reduced, then it should be. Some of the functions that safety relays include: Stopping a movement in a controlled and safe manner Monitoring the position of movable guards Interrupting a closing movement during access Emergency off/stop Safety relays are simple to operate and have a clear structure. The use of safety relays has become widespread due to their compact design, high reliability, and most importantly they meet all the required standards. They have become an integral component of any new plant or machine where safety functions are necessary. A standard relay can’t be used in a Safety Instrumented Function (SIF). For this reason, whenever it is necessary to use a relay complying with IEC 61508 and the relevant industry standard (for example 61511), we must refer to a safety relay. SIF refers to equipment designed to prevent or mitigate the risks of a specific hazard. It detects the imminence of an incident, decides to take a specific action and acts to bring the process back to a safe state. A SIL (Safety Integrity Level) certified relay (Safety Relay) has a known and guaranteed ability to perform a given Safety Function and reach a specific safe state on demand (i.e. open a relief valve or activate a Fire Extinguishing System). The typical cases of application of a SIL certified relays are represented by a controller that can’t meet the power requirement (V or A), or when the multiplication of the contacts is required, or the controller safety function must be inverted. SIL (Safety Integrity Level) Certified Relays are used for critical loops where careful consideration should be given to Line and Load Monitoring. In applications, such as F&G systems, line and load monitoring are fundamental, and Smart Relays become a valuable tool. Smart Relays are devices that implement the load and line diagnostics functions to the safety functions of a safety relay. The SIL certified relays are not used exclusively in Oil & Gas or Petrochemical industries, they are also a must in many other industries like railways, cars and lift, power distribution and anytime a failure of the relay can cause a serious accident. GM International designs, engineers and manufactures a complete range of Intrinsically Safe and SIL Certified relays. Thanks to specific contact arrangement, GM International relay modules maintain higher level of safety while improving process availability (a single fault is not enough for a spurious trip of the load). In conclusion, you should never consider safety and availability mutually exclusive. Choosing the right SIS can ensure that your personnel and your plant are perfectly safe without you having to suffer any economic loss.
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