TUG: Safety Standards Come to Life

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 @ 06:10 PM gHale

By Gregory Hale
Standards are the life blood of the manufacturing automation sector and when it comes to safety, two staunch standards that have been around for a long time have undergone, or will undergo, modifications to keep up with the changing times.

“It’s a very exciting time for process safety because of the changes we’re seeing to IEC 61511, and because IEC 61508 is going to undergo a major revamp soon,” said Dr. Farshad Hendi, safety practice leader, Americas and Europe, Schneider Electric during a group session last week at the Triconex User Group (TUG) conference in Galveston, TX. “The most important aspect of safety standards is that they give practitioners a common and uniform vocabulary for carrying out their safety efforts. They also enable good engineering practices, and provide a framework and baseline for benchmarking. They can tell users what to do and how to keep it right.”

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Hendi moderated a panel of industry safety experts, Dennis Zetterberg, safety systems team lead at Chevron Energy Technology Co., Scott Mourier, process automation SIS expertise area leader, Dow Chemical Co. and Herman Storey, CTO, Herman Storey Consulting.

When it comes to the iconic safety standards, the IEC 61511 standard is user focused, but it does not assign responsibilities. The 61511 standard is in process industry language and context and is performance based rather than prescriptive. The design is based on risk analysis and providing the required risk reduction.

IEC 61508 is going through the process of changing, but it deals with the entire safety lifecycle of safety systems. It targets suppliers of safety systems, but is also applicable to some degree to suppliers of equipment used in those safety systems.

IEC 61511 came out in 2003 with Edition 1, Hendi said. Edition 2 came out in 2016.
Some changes included:
• Functional safety management
• Security
• Allocation of safety functions
• Architectural constraints

“The second edition tried to shift more toward functional safety management, and add security, allocation of safety functions, and address architectural constraints,” he said. “When the second edition published, there were more reactions to it. As a result, its committee decided to conduct a survey to gather more feedback.”

This online survey went out on a global basis and received feedback mainly from the United States, Europe and Australia.

Zetterberg said the IEC 61511 committee sought to learn what parts of the standard were still confusing for users and what still required clarification. In essence, they put together a technical report to highlight the clauses in question and then put in reasons as to why they were put in the reworked standard.

“The feedback we got was some areas were confusing and needed clarification,” Zetterberg said.

Other components of safety standards were also discussed like TR 84.00.05: Guidance on the Identification of Safety Instrumented Functions (SIF) in Burner Management Systems (BMS). The panel reported the committee is researching how 61511 principles could work with existing BMS equipment.

The panel went on to discuss other standards and technical reports, and while standards may not be everybody’s cup of tea, they remain important and vital to ensure an incident free environment.

“Remember Bhopal and Texas City,” Hendi said.

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