Fundamental Principles of Alarm Design

Tolga Us, Niels Jensen, Morten Lind, Sten Bay Jørgensen

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Traditionally alarms are designed on the basis of empirical guidelines rather than on a sound scientific framework rooted in a theoretical foundation for process and control system design. This paper proposes scientific principles and a methodology for design of alarms based on a functional modeling technique (MFM) which represents a process in terms of its goals, functions and operating requirements. The reasoning capabilities of MFM enable identification of operational situations which threaten to generate an alarm and derivation of potential response scenarios. The design methodology can be applied to any engineering system which can be modeled by MFM. The methodology provides a set of alarms which can facilitate event interpretation and operator support for abnormal situation management. The proposed design methodology provides the information content of the alarms, but does not deal with alarm presentation or display design issues. A hydraulically powered grinding process is employed as an industrially relevant system to show the applicability of the proposed design methodology with promising results.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational journal of nuclear safety and simulation
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)44-51
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

© Symbio Community Forum and Harbin Engineering University


  • functional modeling
  • Alarm generation
  • Interpretation
  • Alarm design


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