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aeSolutions' Safety System Lifecycle Management Solutions

By: Mark D. Sen Gupta

Keywords

Safety, SIS, Lifecycle Management, Management of Change, MOC, Layers of Protection, IPL

 

Summary

Recently, aeSolutions briefed ARC Advisory Group on its safety lifecycle solution. The company was established over fifteen years ago as an auto- mation engineering and systems integration company focused on continuously improving the process safety performance of process indus- tries. About three years ago, the company productized its expertise in managing the safety system lifecycle in its aeShield product and maintains a dedicated staff of over 20 employees for its development. The company points to aeShield’s real-time ability to make an enterprise’s safety perfor- mance clearly visible to operations and management personnel as a key differentiator in the market.

According  to  the  company,  the  aeShield  safety lifecycle solution:

  • can help companies design and maintain safety systems that reduce plant safety risk and expo- sure
  • helps address the skilled labor shortage through automation, reducing the cost of compliance with ISA84/IEC61511 directives
  • makes the status of an owner-operator’s safety system(s) easily visible and easily auditable

aeShield Software Solution

With the release of aeShield, aeSolutions moved beyond system integration and automation services to providing software solutions. The aeShield so- lution enables an owner-operator to automate much of the safety lifecycle process, providing companies with a system to maintain a sustainable risk management program. The system maintains relationships among the risk reduction targets, design verification calculations, inspection and test plans for integrity management, and actual historical data. The software then tracks and analyzes process safety information, providing users with real- time alerts and reports on process safety health. This functionality can help companies maintain compliance with ISA84.00.01/IEC 61511 and the relat- ed requirements of OSHA 1910.119.

Because aeShield is deployed as an application with a web-based interface, aeSolutions can offer multiple licensing and implementation options. This includes offering the system as a hosted solution or as a “local” installation. The web access means that users across the enterprise can use the system and that the safety systems at multiple geographical sites can be monitored.

Lifecycle Execution

The solution’s design follows the lifecycle of a safety system and other criti- cal protection layers. Execution correlates to the design and implementation of the system. The users create a “real-world” model of the safety integrat- ed functions (SIFs) and independent protection layers (IPLs); documenting their assumptions, calculations, logic, equipment, and test plans. The tem- plating functionality helps ensure quick and homogeneous application across the organization.

Safety Integrated System KPI Dashboard

Lifecycle Monitoring

Monitoring correlates to the ongoing tracking of the system performance once implemented. aeShield allows users across the enterprise to val- idate the assumptions made during design and track system performance in real time against the real-world model. The system provides this in- formation in the form of dashboards that display relevant KPIs for the enterprise, plant, or safety instrumented system (SIS).

Lifecycle Control

Control is about managing changes in the system. It handles the manage- ment of change (MOC) functions for all layers of protection, not just the SIS. It also manages who can make changes based on the person’s name or their role. The Control functionality will flag problem areas based on the real- time model, allowing safety personnel to focus on true issues in the safety system. This is done by actively comparing the actual safety system against the design criteria in the real-world model.

Conclusions

One of the key challenges in industry today is what is effectively a “set- and-forget” practice with regards to safety. But safety systems are living and dynamic.  There is a very solid methodology for the initial design and implementation of an overall safety system. How- ever, the upkeep of a safety program can be labor intensive and safety expertise is neither cheap nor easy to come by. Complying with the ISA84 and IEC61511 guidelines is difficult at best. 

A disparate collection of offline documentation, spreadsheets, and instrument databases exacerbates efforts for owner-operators to maintain their safety systems for optimum performance. Current methodologies lack adequate techniques to monitor the performance of the implemented systems based on real-world interactions.

The company has purposed its aeShield solution to address a number of key issues in the marketplace. Most notably, aeShield provides a solution for designing and maintaining safety systems to reduce risk and exposure. ARC holds that “anything that can be automated, should be automated.” aeShield’s modeling and real-time monitoring of the safety system’s per- formance automates much of the labor-intensive drudgework in looking for anomalies, accumulating the data into a single, cohesive aggregate, main- taining auditable MOC documentation, and validating design assumptions. This automation helps ensure risks and exposures are identified.

An enterprise cannot address issues it cannot see. aeShield makes the sta- tus of the safety system easily visible and auditable. It helps personnel to ensure that the system is up-to-date. Shortcomings can be identified quick- ly through the real-time monitoring. In the case of an audit, the product is the one source to reference which brings all the records together quickly.

The automation also addresses the reduction in the availability of experi- enced labor. By reducing the amount of personnel required to maintain and monitor an enterprise’s safety systems, aeShield can reduce the cost of compliance with ISA84/IEC61511 directives. ARC has written much around labor availability trends and believes this level of automation is re- quired for business viability going forward.

There are a handful of competing solutions in this space with varying func- tionality. aeShield is designed to manage and model all independent protection layers (IPL) and can track basic process control systems (BPCS) and other automation systems in addition to SIS. While applying the en- hanced integrity requirements of SIS systems across an enterprise’s entire base of plant automation systems may require a change in mindset,  it should help improve overall system management.

 

For further information or to provide feedback on this article, please contact your account manager or the author at MSenGupta@arcweb.com. ARC Views are pub- lished and copyrighted by ARC Advisory Group. The information is proprietary to ARC and no part of it may be reproduced without prior permission from ARC.