An Overview of Industrial Alarm Systems: Main Causes for Alarm Overloading, Research Status, and Open Problems


Alarm systems play critically necessary roles for the safe and efficient operation of modern industrial plants. However, most existing industrial alarm systems suffer from poor performance, noticeably having too many alarms to be handled by operators in management rooms. Such alarm overloading is extremely detrimental to the vital role played by alarm systems. This paper provides an overview of industrial alarm systems. Four main causes are identified as the culprits for alarm overloading, specifically, chattering alarms because of noise and disturbance, alarm variables incorrectly configured, alarm style isolated from connected variables, and abnormality propagation as a result of physical connections. Industrial examples from a giant-scale thermal power plant are provided as supportive evidences. The current research status for industrial alarm systems is summarized by focusing on existing studies connected to those main causes. Eight basic analysis problems to be solved are formulated for the entire lifecycle of alarm variables including alarm configuration, alarm style, and alarm removal.

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