ASM Consortium visits BP in Hull

The Abnormal Situation Management (ASM) Consortium met in Hull, UK, for a quarterly meeting to discuss their latest research and administrative business.  The ASM Consortium is an industry organization that includes a wide range of industrial manufacturers, vendors, and universities. The members of ASM have been collaborating for nearly 20 years to address process safety challenges by pioneering innovative automation solutions and operational excellence best practices for managing abnormal situations in industrial facilities. The consortium’s Quarterly Review Meeting (QRM) serves as a platform for members to share ASM best practices and discuss new challenges faced in plant operations.

            The meeting had two key aspects: firstly a visit to BP’s Hull facility, and secondly a workshop around the impact of procedures on abnormal situations. BP has invested in good human factors practices including control room design, operator interface, alarm rationalization and operator training at its Hull facility.

In addition, consortium members and guest speakers discussed how human factors relate to abnormal situation management, and ways it could improve plant safety and efficiency.  Julie Bell, from the UK Health and Safety Laboratory, discussed challenges in assessing high-reliability organizations, adoption of best practices in human factors and assessing human error in process hazard analysis. Dr. C Marijke Gordijn, from the University of Groningen, discussed the impact of lighting on operator performance and health. Other presentations included: “Digital Oil Fields,” “Alarm Enforcement” and “Progress on ISA106.”

“Human performance is critical to plant safety. To continue to reduce the impact of poor human performance on safety, we need to continue to improve approaches to operator training, development and use of procedures, and operator interaction with control systems including alarm,” said Andrew Ogden-Swift, Development and Deployment Lead for the ASM Consortium. “User centered design of facilities and systems will lead to safer and more efficient plants.”

The ASM Consortium started in 1994 to address customer concerns about the high cost of incidents at their plants such as unplanned shutdowns, fires, explosions, or emissions, and this was termed Abnormal Situation Management. An injection of funding from NIST enabled the consortium to spend several years researching and developing highly-advanced concepts to address the problem of abnormal situations. Since then, research has continued and increasing effort has been put into development and deployment of ASM solutions that incorporate ASM knowledge.

The basis of the ASM Consortium is collaboration and information-sharing. By working together, members achieve far more than they could working alone. Research results are published for members, and often further shared by means of webinars, seminars and workshops. User members also guide Honeywell in selection and development of product solutions that incorporate ASM knowledge. Non-members can benefit from ASM Research as ‘ASM Effective Practices Guidelines for Alarm Management’, ‘Display Design’ and ‘Procedural Practices’ are available for purchase on