Kinder Morgan Canada Uses Matrikon Alarm Manager for Pipeline Management

“Insight with Matrikon Alarm Manager aids in decision-making. We can evaluate and shift operator workloads to improve operational efficiency.”
— Ron Threlfall, Manager, Simulation and SCADA Control

Challenge:
Apply consistent, best-practices alarm management across all pipelines and operators to ensure evenly distributed work loads and increased safety.

Solution:
Matrikon Alarm Manager collects and stores all alarm and event data, allowing Kinder Morgan Canada to measure alarms, reduce nuisance alarms, adjust workloads, manage changes and standardize alarm practices across its pipelines.

Expected Results:

  • Consistency across pipelines gives the company more flexibility in how it allocates operators.
  • Proper alarm configuration reduces operational errors and allows for more effective workload management, increasing safety.
  • Alarm Manager will help the company identify ways to manage new assets without adding staff, potentially saving on labor costs.

    Every day, Kinder Morgan Canada transports over 680,000 barrels of petroleum products across five pipelines to Canada, the U.S. and offshore. Operating in both countries, Kinder Morgan Canada must assure compliance with applicable regulations, and where practical, tends to follow what it considers the higher set of standards.

    “We want to take the best of breed, and in many cases, apply standards even if they are not mandated by one country or another,” said Ron Threlfall, Manager, Simulation and SCADA Control.

    That pursuit of best practices, combined with rapid growth, led the company to look at its approach to alarm management. With oversight of multiple pipelines, Kinder Morgan Canada needed to ensure consistent alarm distribution, configuration and change management across all operating stations. Most importantly, the company wanted to implement consistent responses regarding alarms across all locations and operators.

    “We realized there were some imbalances among different operating stations in the control center,” Threlfall said. “We wanted to evaluate operator workloads to balance alarms more efficiently.”

    Accurate Snapshots of Alarm Systems
    To increase awareness of alarm management, several Kinder Morgan Canada groups attended Matrikon alarm management training courses. In the process, they learned about Matrikon’s™ Alarm Manager. The solution seamlessly collects and stores all alarm and event data and automatically generates Key Performance Indicator reports to give users an accurate snapshot of current alarm system performance.

    At Kinder Morgan Canada, the Matrikon solution would enable Threlfall and operators to monitor and measure operations and work loads, allowing them to adjust alarms and operators as needed. It also helps ensure all changes to the control system are correct, consistent, and properly recorded.

    “Matrikon is very comprehensive in addressing a number of issues related to alarming,” Threlfall said. “Instead of subjectively addressing alarms based on operator complaints, we can objectively quantify alarms to identify problems and develop solutions.”

    Matrikon consultants worked with Threlfall and the company’s information technology department to implement Alarm Manager. The company’s pipelines connect to two different SCADA systems, all operated from the Sherwood Park control center outside Edmonton. Alarm Manager monitors the systems continuously, allowing Kinder Morgan Canada to understand alarm activity through regular reporting.

    Consistent Management across Pipelines
    With Matrikon Alarm Manager, Kinder Morgan Canada ensures that it manages alarms across all pipelines in a consistent way. Soon after implementing the solution, the company tapped into Alarm Manager to report on alarm numbers and types on each pipeline.

    “It was a bit of an eye opener,” Thelfall said. “One pipeline was receiving a lot more alarms than the others and needed to be addressed, but we weren’t hearing any complaints from those operators.”

    In response, Kinder Morgan Canada will use Alarm Manager to apply the same best practices in alarm management standards across every pipeline. With real alarm numbers in hand, managers can identify not only where alarm management needs to improve but they also have the means to document and enforce those standards.

    More consistency across pipelines will reduce operator training time, and give the company more flexibility in how it allocates operators. Plus, it will allow Kinder Morgan Canada to consolidate procedures and standards documents. “Once we train one operator on one pipeline, the learning curve shrinks if we move that person to another pipeline,” Threlfall said.

    Uniform Change Management Practices
    Alarm Manager’s Management of Change (MOC) capabilities also contribute to consistent documentation of alarm configuration and change procedures. When the company built 10 new pump stations for its Trans Mountain pipeline, it used Alarm Manager MOC to ensure all new stations and one existing one were configured in the same way from the start.

    Likewise, Kinder Morgan Canada is applying the change control capabilities to configure alarms for new storage tanks at the Sherwood Park location. For any alarm changes, the company has a record of why it was originally configured in a certain way, allowing them to make any changes conscientiously and deliberately. Discrepancy reports make sure changes never slip through the cracks.

    More Efficient, Safer Operations
    With Alarm Manager, Kinder Morgan Canada will be able to identify bad actors and ensure all alarms are configured in a way that maximizes safety and efficiency. By reducing alarms, the solution helps operators notice the most important ones, thereby decreasing operator error.

    “We can more effectively manage alarms during high volumes,” Threlfall said. “That takes the burden off operators and enhances safety.”

    Kinder Morgan Canada also balances operator work loads more effectively. When alarms are not evenly distributed, the company can consider reallocating functions to balance coverage.

    “Insight with Matrikon Alarm Manager aids in decision-making,” Threlfall said. “We can evaluate and shift operator workloads to improve operational efficiency.”

    About Matrikon
    Matrikon is a leading provider of industrial intelligence solutions that enable manufacturing plants to achieve operational excellence by transforming production data into knowledge to predict and prevent problems and optimize operations. Matrikon's customers achieve agile operations through the combination of external market and plant data to make informed, intelligent decisions in real-time. With offices in major cities throughout North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East and a global client base including industry leaders in a wide range of process industries, Matrikon's reach is global. www.matrikon.com

    Matrikon is a trademark or registered trademark of Matrikon Inc.