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Printer Friendly VersionSelected Information - Completed Research

CP321  Improving Water Treatment Security - Lifting the Covers on Alarms and Unmanned Sites Asset Management
Project Appreciation and Objectives

Pressures on alarm and monitoring systems have increased steadily, due to the greater complexity of treatment processes, reduced staffing levels and the regulatory push to provide higher levels of security and safety. Inevitably alarms have tended to proliferate, making the job of responding correctly more difficult. This can be particularly demanding when dealing with alarms from unmanned sites at regional centres, where local site knowledge may be incomplete. This project examined alarm setting and handling procedures in depth, drawing on participants' experience and practice and on best practice in other industries. Areas of particular interest were: alarm prioritising; the safe suppression of false alarms; data/alarms/control functions to be remotely accessible; intelligent alarms; alarm ergonomics; the link to risk management; support to alarm handlers; alarm audit trail; standardisation and individual site differences. The wider context of operating unmanned sites was considered, as this is the most challenging situation for alarm systems.

Participants were able to benchmark their current practice and to make improvements where appropriate and to consider newer technologies that could strengthen the resilience and safety of their operation.

WRc worked with Laurie Reynolds Associates, who brought experience from other industries' standards.

Benefits to Clients

  • Improved security of water treatment through implementation of results;
  • Improved operational efficiency through minimising unnecessary alarms and call-outs;
  • Better information for planning - benchmark data within the UK context, research into new technology alarm and monitoring methods.

Work Programme

  1. A benchmarking review to review practice with regard to monitoring and alarm setting/handling on manned and unmanned sites using information from the project participants.
  2. Development of best practice will consider both UK water companies' and other industries' methods and practice on alarms and monitoring to make recommendations for best practice.
  3. Future developments in alarm systems which considered how new technology can be applied to improve the performance and integrity of alarm and monitoring systems.

Project Outputs

  • Benchmark report including an analysis of information from all participants and individual sections by company coded to protect sensitive information.
  • A consolidated report on best practice and the results of research into the use of new technology in alarms and monitoring.
  • A dissemination workshop

Related WRc Work

  • Two projects on small sewage works monitoring which considered alarms and intelligent alarms in depth, 2001-4.
  • Investigating water treatment monitoring and control strategy, Major Water Utility, 2004
  • Comparing monitoring control and automation methods with other UK water treatment practice, Major UK Water Utility, 2004.
  • Several consultancy projects on SCADA and telemetry for UK and overseas clients, 2003-present
WRc's Portfolio Programme
Summary of the £1.5 million per annum research programme

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