ATP Helps Consortium Develop Technology to Prevent Manufacturing Accidents
||Abnormal Situation Management Consortium (ASMC)
- Honeywell, Inc. (Minneapolis, MN) – consortium organizational leader
- Seven large petrochemical firms: BP; Amoco; Chevron; Exxon; Mobil; Shell; Texaco
- Two small software suppliers: Applied Training Resources (Houston, TX); Gensym (Cambridge, MA)
Duration and Cost:
funding amount: $8.1 M
- Industry Cost-share amount: $8.5 M
Report of the Completed Project:
One of the largest industrial disasters in U.S. history not due to natural causes was a $1.6 billion explosion at a petrochemical plant in 1989. This accident represents an extreme case in a range of minor to major process disruptions, collectively referred to as abnormal situations. Most of these abnormal situations do not result in explosions or fires, but are costly nonetheless, resulting in poor product quality, schedule delays, equipment delays, and other significant costs. The inability of an automated control system and plant operations personnel to control abnormal situations has an economic impact of at least $20 billion annually in the chemical industry alone.
In 1992, a group of companies formed the Abnormal Systems Management Consortium to address common issues. They conducted 18 months of preliminary work to identify opportunities to address situation management. Combining the elements into a comprehensive, automated decision-support system would require an intensive effort to address high-risk innovations in human-machine interaction, system architecture, and configuration. Therefore, in 1994, the ASM Consortium applied to ATP for funding to support collaborative efforts to determine the feasibility of early ASM software technology to provide manufacturers with decision-support tools. None of the members could do this work alone, but each consortium member was committed to applying ASM concepts.
and Economic Impacts
Honeywell and its Abnormal Situation Management (ASM) Consortium partners established a paradigm shift in manufacturing process management. They focused on consistent information management (such as maintaining current operations data electronically and developing proactive human-error management strategies). The team developed new strategies around communication between operators and estimation of current manufacturing conditions (for example, temperatures, pressures, vibrations, flow-through, and raw material quality). In a side-by-side simulated plant comparison, the ASM operators consistently performed better than state-of-the-art “traditional” operators. Operators using the newly designed ASM operator interfaces demonstrated significant improvements:
- Responded faster and more consistently to abnormal situations (6.5 to 9.7 minutes faster, a 35- to 48-percent improvement)
- Recognized that an abnormal situation was present before the first alarm in 48 percent of scenarios (a 38-percent improvement over existing control consoles)
- Resolved 96 percent of abnormal situations successfully (a 26-percent improvement)
To calculate the value of improved solution times and higher success rates, the consortium developed an annual baseline of incident data from six years of history. Comparing an ASM control console with a traditional console for one 1.8 billion lbs./year ethylene plant, ASM generated an average savings of $870,000 per year. The median savings for a single plant was $800,000 per year. The rigorous application of ASM technologies and principles allows a plant to run closer to full capacity, increasing from approximately 95 percent of capacity to almost 99 percent.
The benefits of this technology are very broad: now, over 120 operating plant systems are equipped with the Alarm Configuration Management tool, one of over 20 products that eventually came out of the ASM’s ATP activities.
In addition, through the ASM, much of the knowledge developed was codified and disseminated in:
- Eight issued patents
- Over 20 publications (in journals such as Chemical Engineering Progress, Control Engineering, and Hydrocarbon Processing)
- Over 15 conference presentations (such as at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers conference)
The ASM continued to operate after ATP funding ended in 2000, and the ASM is still in operation today, where it has transitioned from a research focus to a greater product development orientation. Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University have further studied the ASM in the following report: Sustainable Collaboration: A Study of the Dynamics of a Consortia.
Date created: July 29, 2005
Last updated: August 28, 2009