Improve your annunciator alarming with voice alarms

2 min read

Alarm Overload is an issue most control rooms must deal with on an ongoing basis. An option is to take the current plant alarm system and convert that into voice alarms using the PA system.

Alarm Overload is an issue most control rooms must deal with on an ongoing basis. Relieving operator overload is a major priority for most process engineering professionals. Much of the burden has been caused by DCS and SCADA systems delivering too much information to operators who are then under pressure to make decisions and take corrective action.

Whilst it’s not disputed that all this information is important to a smooth-running process, it’s important to differentiate between the types of information collected by the supervisory systems and to classify alarms requiring action from status information. The role of the alarm system is to prompt operator intervention to act and return the process to optimum levels or to safe conditions.

Critical Alarms are most often managed with the use of Annunciators as a separate layer of plant protection over and above the Supervisory system.

However even this methodology does not always reduce the load on operators who are trying to service alarms coming into the control room. Standards like ISA 18.1 and EEMUA 191 Alarm Systems are extremely valuable in rationalizing the alarm management process however they are generic, and every plant or process has its own unique issues when it comes to abnormal conditions.  Many schools of thought have sought to relieve the pressure on operators in those cases and they often boil down to differentiating the types of alarm using audio visual stimuli.

An option requested from a client to take the current plant alarm system and rationalize that into voice alarms over the PA system that busy operators can hear and evaluate the urgency of without leaving what they are currently busy with was the real benefit to operator efficiency. Alarms are voice recorded into WAV files and embedded on the HMI ready to be triggered by the Alarm Marshalling unit which is monitoring the existing alarm systems. This could be a PLC or SCADA as well as existing Omni16 Annunciator system.

An Alarm banner on the HMI further provided information on the Alarm. Unresolved alarms will also re-flash after a period of time to remind operators of their status and importance.


- Customize existing alarm system with voice alarms for improved productivity.

- Busy Operators can evaluate the new alarms while busy with something else.

- Reduces operator stress from multiple alarm sources.

- Operators can discriminate the status of more alarms timeously.

- Allows critical alarms to have an additional level of differentiation.