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Last updateFri, 26 May 2017 2pm

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The Future of Coal: Efficiency Over Politics?

The Future of Coal: Efficiency Over Politics?

Many changes in the power industry have ...

Valve World Americas Event Set for June 20-21

Valve World Americas Event Set for June 20-21

End users, distributors, EPC/AEC personn...

Water Hammer

Water Hammer

Water hammer is a shock wave transmitted...

Turning the Tables on Valve Corrosion

Turning the Tables on Valve Corrosion

Multiple valve manufacturers and users w...

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Industry Headlines

Emerson Acquires MYNAH Technologies

1 DAY AGO

Emerson has completed the purchase of MYNAH Technologies, a long-time Emerson alliance partner. The addition of MYNAH will help support Emerson Automation Solutions and its Operational Certainty program. Terms of  the acquisition were not disclosed.

MYNAH software is currently in use at more than ...

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Roger Fix Named Chairman of Flowserve

2 DAYS AGO

In its most recent annual meeting, Flowserve announced that Bill Rusnack and Lynn Elsenhans have retired as members of the board of directors. Flowserve also announced that board member Roger Fix has been elected to replace Rusnack as chairman.

"Bill and Lynn provided years of distinguished service to ...

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Oil-Fired Plants Provide Small Amount of U.S. Electric Capacity, Generation

20 HOURS AGO

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration , roughly 70% of petroleum-fired electric generating capacity that still exists today was constructed prior to 1980. Utility-scale generators that reported petroleum as their primary fuel comprised only 3% of total electric generating capacity at...

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ExxonMobil, SABIC Agree on Proposed Petrochemical Project

2 DAYS AGO

Affiliates of Exxon Mobil and SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) signed an agreement to conduct a detailed study of the proposed Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project in Texas and begin planning for front-end engineering and design work. The agreement was signed during the Saudi-US CEO Forum in R...

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Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Survey Shows Expansion in May

-1 DAYS AGO

Tenth District manufacturing activity continued to expand at a moderate pace in May, and expectations for future activity increased strongly. Price indexes were mixed, but recorded little change overall. The month-over-month composite index was 8 in May, up from 7 in April but down from 20 in March.

Ac...

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Business Borrowing for Capital Investment Up 8% in April

20 HOURS AGO

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for April was $7.9 billion, up 8% year-ov...

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SIL Made Simple

ChemicalPlant

A good deal of misunderstanding exists about what an SIL is and how it is assigned. Yet anyone involved in products that are to be used in Safety Instrumented Systems should know how this designation came to be and what it means.

Many valve end users, piping engineers and valve manufacturers are responsible for products to be used in Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS). But these “valve people” tend to be mechanically oriented, not particularly oriented toward instrumentation. Nonetheless, these days any valve person may very well be responsible for equipment to be used in what is typically, but perhaps incorrectly, referred to as an “SIL [Safety Integrity Level] application.” But the issue of specifying or using products with an SIL can be confusing and intimidating for people not familiar with what the term means.

This article seeks to provide non-instrumentation personnel with a basic overall understanding of what SIL is and how to think about it in terms of the selling, use or purchase of valve and actuator products, particularly as it applies to partial stroke valve testing (PST). It deals with broad concepts and generalities of SIL, recognizing there are always exceptions to the rules.

Taking this topic that, for many, is shrouded in mystery, confusion and intimidation and making it into something that can be understood in general terms should help all valve people serve their companies and customers better.


WHAT IS SIL?

Understanding SIL begins with learning where SIL came from, and what is involved.

As a result of industrial accidents such as the Bhopal pesticide plant disaster and the Piper Alpha offshore platform explosion in the 1980s, increasing attention has been paid to the risks within industrial processes. Today, we are constantly weighing the relative risks involved with the hazardous processes-such as refined fuels, hydrocarbons, petrochemicals-so necessary for our modern way of living.

We also look for ways to meet demands for continuous operations for as many months and years as possible because plant shutdowns result in reduced revenue stream. These demands on plant operations, coupled with the advent of more recent safety procedures, reliability engineering and much more have led to greatly extended times between routine “maintenance shutdowns” (a time to close down process plant operations and concentrate on maintenance of equipment and testing of safety systems). This, in turn, has led to increased attention to reducing operational risk.

The increasing number of industrial accidents and the resulting pressure from insurance companies and governmental oversight/safety agencies created a movement to set standards for the classification of SIS. The oversight bodies posed this question to process plants:

If the plant is going to remain operational for an extended period of time, how can we be assured that the valve plant safety systems will function correctly when called upon?

Industry responded to this question with accepted industry standards (essentially self-governing practices) such as ISA-S84.01 and IEC 61508/61511 to measure the acceptable level of performance of these systems. Adherence to the standards became a best practice. Note that the standards are not prescriptive-they are performance oriented. They say what level needs to be achieved, not how to reach those levels. Ultimately, it is up to the end user to make the decision of how that’s to be done.

SIL_figure_1An SIS is designed to prevent or reduce hazardous events by taking a process to a safe state when predetermined conditions are violated. An SIS can typically be an emergency shutdown system (ESD), a safety interlock system or a safety shutdown system. Each SIS will have one or more Safety Instrumented Functions (SIF). Such a function might be something like:

  • When the tank pressure gets too high, a safety valve opens.
  • When the solution in the tank gets too hot, the inlet steam valve closes.

Of course, each SIF loop will be a combination of logic solvers, sensors, solenoids and final control elements, such as an automated valve. Every SIF within an SIS will have an SIL level. These levels may be the same or they may differ, depending on the process. A common misconception is that an entire system must have the same SIL level for each safety function.

SIL_figure_2Figure 2. PFDAVG and Valve Life Cycle Graphs reprinted by permission from ANSI/ISA-TR96.05.01-2008. ©ISA 2008

An SIL is essentially a measure of the system performance in terms of Probability of Failure on Demand (PFD). If the goal is to reduce risk, we need to understand what that risk is. The simplified equation for risk is:

Risk = Probability X Consequence

We can think of probability in terms of hazard frequency (how often will a process exceed normal conditions and need to be brought to a safe state?); and consequences in terms of hazard consequences (what happens to the plant, employees, environment and community if the process upset is not brought to a safe state?).

Where the SIL number comes from or how it is determined might be described in the following simplified sequence:

  • A decision is made that a process plant needs to comply with the international standards for process safety systems, usually IEC 61511.
  • The plant forms a HAZOP (Hazard and Operability Study) team. Essentially the HAZOP procedure involves taking a full description of a process and systematically questioning every part of it to establish how deviations from the design intent could arise. Once identified, an assessment is made whether such deviations and their consequences can have a negative impact upon the safe and efficient operation of the plant. If considered necessary, action is then taken to remedy the situation. In a sense, this is based upon Murphy's law: Anything that can go wrong, WILL go wrong. What the HAZOP team attempts to determine is: What will go wrong? The team might be comprised of process design engineers, operations personnel, maintenance and instrumentation engineers, etc.
  • As part of the HAZOP, all instrument safeguards, i.e., SIS, are identified and validated for their primary capability to prevent an incident from occurring or to mitigate the consequences of an accident. SIL classification of an SIS is the next step after the HAZOP to ensure that the SIS provides sufficient risk reduction.
  • Essentially, the HAZOP team identifies which systems will create the highest level of risk if the SIF fails and then determines the impact of the failure, i.e., the consequence of failure.
  • Consequences of failure might include escalating examples, but the possibilities are endless. In other words, the list might address: “If the system fails...:”
    • The plant will lose $15,000 per day.
    • The plant will lose $1 million per day.
    • The plant will become damaged and will shut down for three weeks.
    • A high degree of probability exists for injury or loss of life to company personnel in the immediate area.
    • A high degree of probability exists for explosion and loss of life to non-company personnel outside the parameter of the facility.

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