Flawed safety processes cost US petchems $20bn/year – Honeywell

09 March 2011 18:51  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--Troubles with poorly designed alarm systems and other process safety incidents are costing the US petrochemicals industry an estimated $20bn/year (€14bn/year), a Honeywell executive said on Wednesday.

Dan Sheflin, vice president of technology at Honeywell's automation and control business, said a key issue for operators in control rooms was the large number of alarms preceding an explosion, which made it hard to assess what was actually happening.

As a key example, Sheflin pointed to the BP Texas City refinery explosion in 2005 that cost an estimated $1.7bn.

Honeywell, for its part, was focussing on providing operator training simulators, as well as simplified alarm management systems, Sheflin told investors at a conference in New York.

"Operator training simulators are similar to flight simulators," he said.

"They train operators first how to run the plant efficiently, and then they train operators how to respond during emergency events."

Meanwhile, simplified alarm management systems screened out minor alarms and presented to operators only the important information they needed to deal with events, he said.

Honeywell became a "dominant player" in those systems after its
acquisition of Canada's Matrikon last year, Sheflin said.

Honeywell also has a petrochemicals engineering and technology division, UOP, and it is a producer of caprolactam, ammonium sulphate fertilizers, nylon 6 and  fluorine products.

($1 = €0.72)

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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