Safety Lifecycle Management: How Plant Operators Can Secure Their Future

To remain efficient, every plant operator is faced with guaranteeing a consistently smooth operation. And as plants are regularly modernized and expanded, keeping up with the task of ensuring all-round safety is a considerable feat. This article highlights the challenge of maintaining and upgrading safety equipment in a critical environment.

With so much to think about, maintaining the performance of safety systems that require approval can seem like a mammoth task for plant operators. Too often, stakeholders do not act until a problem arises. Active plant lifecycle management is necessary to avoid unpleasant surprises and high follow-up costs, but often goes neglected.

After years in operation, plant operators might not be aware of the actual status of their installations. They might lack precise knowledge about modifications, documentation status, and achieved safety performance. Threats are changing too, as cybersecurity presents companies with further challenges. The distance between safety expectation and reality can widen throughout the safety lifecycle. Safety lifecycle management can close the gap on safety.

Of 232 large risk losses recorded by FM Global in 2018, 65 were the result of equipment breakdown. Source: FM Global

Consistency Is Key

Functional Safety Management (FSM) is vital in ensuring the long-term safety and standard conformity of a plant. Components of effective FSM include a safety plan, internal assessments, regular audits, the four-eye principle, defined procedures, templates, and checklists for carrying out activities throughout a plant’s safety lifecycle. FSM helps maintain safety function during lengthy operational phases so that it can also perform its intended task in the event of an emergency. Functional Safety Assessments (FSA) and proof tests are therefore carried out at regular intervals. With active FSM, all the relevant documentation is available. This is a prerequisite to prove the conformity to safety standards and for the further planning of extensions and modernizations.

Down with Downtime

Many operators are unsure about the availability of spare or replacement parts. Often spare parts are limited in quantity or no longer available, resulting in unplanned downtime and high replacement costs.

To avoid this, an annual analysis of the safety systems should be carried out with replacement parts in mind. This provides information on necessary maintenance measures, upgrades, and modernization.

Smart Safety: A Platform to Protect Investment

Plant operators must ensure the longest possible service life and long-term availability of safety systems. This is done with future productivity in mind.

HIMA ensures that spare parts or compatible successor products for HIMA safety controllers are available for a period of at least 25 years. Thanks to their modular design, controllers can also be expanded with new functions. This is where the Smart Safety Platform – based on unified hardware and software solutions – comes in. Extension, adaptation, and modernization are simplified. Existing systems can also be integrated into the platform.

Automation Security Gains Importance

According to IEC 61511 Edition 2, an automation security risk assessment is mandatory to identify vulnerabilities and define the measures that can reduce or remove the threats. Plant operators are responsible for ensuring automation security analysis is carried out. Every operator should therefore check their safety-critical systems – or, have them checked – in order to future-proof production.

Safety Lifecycle Services

Every safety lifecycle phase should be accompanied by safety experts, and the maintenance of the safety equipment should be addressed in good time. These are lessons that HIMA has learned through decades of experience in safety-critical systems.

Safety Lifecycle Services can contribute long-term plant availability. An active, forward-thinking product lifecycle management system constantly checks system statuses. This ensures that components and systems can be replaced or maintained during planned downtime or turnarounds. Malfunctions are prevented and costly, unplanned downtime can be avoided. By focusing on smart safety, we can help you close the gap on safety and make a safe, secure, profitable operation an everyday reality.