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Achieving Predictable Valve Performance for Safety Applications

Achieving Predictable Valve Performance for Safety Applications

A focus on having the proper specificati...

Putting Servo Valves Back to Work

Putting Servo Valves Back to Work

Industries as varied as paper production...

Corrosion and Fouling: Is There a Solution?

Corrosion and Fouling: Is There a Solution?

According to a 1998 study released by the ...

Valves with All the Trimmings

Valves with All the Trimmings

The term valve trim has been around for ...

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Industry Headlines

Strong Momentum for M&A Activity in the Chemical Industry

Monday, 19 February 2018  |  Chris Guy

Global chemical mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in 2018 is expected to remain strong, as higher valuations continue to be mitigated by imp...

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Valve Positioners Offer Improved Control Valve Performance

Valve Positioners Offer Improved Control Valve Performance

Monday, 19 February 2018  |  David Matherly

From time to time, we are re-posting well-received or particularly valuable articles that have previously run on VALVEMagazine.com so that those who m...

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Industry Headlines

ValvTechnologies ITC 2018 Recap

3 DAYS AGO

The biennial ValvTechnologies’ International Technical Conference and Users Group (ITC) was held on February 8-9 in Houston. Seeking to educate, inspire and engage attendees over a two-day period, the event brought together hundreds of attendees from across the globe to share valuable insight ...

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Matthew Davis Named Field Service Manager at Weir

4 DAYS AGO

Weir Valves & Controls USA (WVC USA) has appointed Matthew Davis to the position of field service manager. In his new role, Davis will be responsible for managing the WVC USA Field Service crew and organizing WVC Service jobs for power plants worldwide.

Davis joins WVC USA with over 20 years of ex...

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Strong Momentum for M&A Activity in the Chemical Industry

5 HOURS AGO

Global chemical mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in 2018 is expected to remain strong, as higher valuations continue to be mitigated by improving global economic conditions, continued inexpensive financing, and an appetite amongst industry participants for growth and transformative M&...

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TransCanada Turns Attention to Natural Gas System

4 DAYS AGO

TransCanada Corp. will move forward with a $1.9 billion expansion of its NGTL System to connect incremental supply and expand basin export capacity by one billion cubic feet of natural gas per day at the interconnection with its Canadian Mainline. NGTL expects to begin construction in 2019.

The increme...

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Construction Starts in 2017 Decline 7%

5 HOURS AGO

Many of the leading U.S. metropolitan areas for commercial and multifamily construction starts showed reduced activity in 2017 compared to levels reported during 2016, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Of the top ten markets ranked by the dollar amount of construction starts, seven registered...

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Philly Fed: Manufacturing Activity Expanded Solidly

8 HOURS AGO

The index for manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia Federal Reserve region increased 4 points in February to a reading of 25.8. The index has stayed within a relatively narrow range over the past nine months. Nearly 41% of the firms indicated increases in activity this month, while 15% reported...

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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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