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RECOMMENDED PRACTICE

ISA-RP77.60.02-2010 Fossil Fuel Power Plant Human-Machine Interface: Hard Panel Alarms
Approved 28 October 2010

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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010 ISBN: ISBN: 978-1-936007-68-4 Copyright 2010 by ISA. All rights reserved. Not for resale. Printed in the United Sates of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the Publisher. ISA 67 Alexander Drive P.O. Box 12277 Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709 Copyright 2010 ISA. All rights reserved.
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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

Preface
This preface, as well as all footnotes and annexes, is included for informational purposes and is not part of ISA-RP77.60.02-2010. This document has been prepared as part of the service of ISA toward a goal of uniformity in the field of instrumentation. To be of real value, this document should not be static but should be subject to periodic review. Toward this end, the Society welcomes all comments and criticisms and asks that they be addressed to the Secretary, Standards and Practices Board; ISA; 67 Alexander Drive; P.O. Box 12277; Research Triangle Park, NC, 27709; Telephone (919) 549-8411; Fax (919) 549-8288; E-mail: standards@isa.org. The ISA Standards and Practices Department is aware of the growing need for attention to the metric system of units in general, and the International System of Units (SI) in particular, in the preparation of instrumentation standards. The Department is further aware of the benefits to USA users of ISA standards of incorporating suitable references to the SI (and the metric system) in their business and professional dealings with other countries. Toward this end, this Department will endeavor to introduce SI-acceptable metric units in all new and revised standards, recommended practices, and technical reports to the greatest extent possible. Standards for Use of the International System of Units (SI): The Modern Metric System, published by the American Society for Testing & Materials as IEEE/ASTM SI 1097, and future revisions, will be the reference guide for definitions, symbols, abbreviations, and conversion factors. It is the policy of ISA to encourage and welcome the participation of all concerned individuals and interests in the development of ISA standards, recommended practices, and technical reports. Participation in the ISA standards-making process by an individual in no way constitutes endorsement by the employer of that individual, of ISA, or of any of the standards, recommended practices, and technical reports that ISA develops. CAUTION ISA DOES NOT TAKE ANY POSITION WITH RESPECT TO THE EXISTENCE OR VALIDITY OF ANY PATENT RIGHTS ASSERTED IN CONNECTION WITH THIS DOCUMENT, AND ISA DISCLAIMS LIABILITY FOR THE INFRINGEMENT OF ANY PATENT RESULTING FROM THE USE OF THIS DOCUMENT. USERS ARE ADVISED THAT DETERMINATION OF THE VALIDITY OF ANY PATENT RIGHTS, AND THE RISK OF INFRINGEMENT OF SUCH RIGHTS, IS ENTIRELY THEIR OWN RESPONSIBILITY. PURSUANT TO ISAS PATENT POLICY, ONE OR MORE PATENT HOLDERS OR PATENT APPLICANTS MAY HAVE DISCLOSED PATENTS THAT COULD BE INFRINGED BY USE OF THIS DOCUMENT AND EXECUTED A LETTER OF ASSURANCE COMMITTING TO THE GRANTING OF A LICENSE ON A WORLDWIDE, NON-DISCRIMINATORY BASIS, WITH A FAIR AND REASONABLE ROYALTY RATE AND FAIR AND REASONABLE TERMS AND CONDITIONS. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON SUCH DISCLOSURES AND LETTERS OF ASSURANCE, CONTACT ISA OR VISIT www.isa.org/StandardsPatents. OTHER PATENTS OR PATENT CLAIMS MAY EXIST FOR WHICH A DISCLOSURE OR LETTER OF ASSURANCE HAS NOT BEEN RECEIVED. ISA IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR IDENTIFYING PATENTS OR PATENT APPLICATIONS FOR WHICH A LICENSE MAY BE REQUIRED, FOR CONDUCTING INQUIRIES INTO THE LEGAL VALIDITY OR SCOPE OF PATENTS, OR DETERMINING WHETHER ANY LICENSING TERMS OR CONDITIONS PROVIDED IN CONNECTION WITH SUBMISSION OF A LETTER OF ASSURANCE, IF ANY, OR IN ANY LICENSING AGREEMENTS ARE REASONABLE OR NON-DISCRIMINATORY. ISA REQUESTS THAT ANYONE REVIEWING THIS DOCUMENT WHO IS AWARE OF ANY PATENTS THAT MAY IMPACT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DOCUMENT NOTIFY THE ISA STANDARDS AND PRACTICES DEPARTMENT OF THE PATENT AND ITS OWNER.

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ADDITIONALLY, THE USE OF THIS DOCUMENT MAY INVOLVE HAZARDOUS MATERIALS, OR EQUIPMENT. THE DOCUMENT CANNOT ANTICIPATE ALL POSSIBLE APPLICATIONS OR ADDRESS ALL POSSIBLE SAFETY ISSUES ASSOCIATED WITH USE IN HAZARDOUS CONDITIONS. THE USER OF THIS DOCUMENT MUST EXERCISE SOUND PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT CONCERNING ITS USE AND APPLICABILITY UNDER THE USERS PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES. THE USER MUST ALSO CONSIDER THE APPLICABILITY OF ANY GOVERNMENTAL REGULATORY LIMITATIONS AND ESTABLISHED SAFETY AND HEALTH PRACTICES BEFORE IMPLEMENTING THIS STANDARD. The following people served as Voting members of ISA Committee SP77: NAME R. Hubby, Co-chair D. Lee, Co-chair L. Altcheh J. Batug D. Christopher G. Cohee D. Crow R. Eng A. Gavrilos J. Gilman W. Hocking W. Holland H. Johansen R. Johnson G. McFarland, Managing Director G. Mookerjee J. Olson P. Reeves D. Roney M. Skoncey T. Stevenson C. Taft A. Zadiraka COMPANY Consultant ABB Inc. Israel Electric Corp. PPL Generation LLC Consultant Applied Control Systems Invensys Foxboro Hitachi Power Systems America ABB Inc. JFG Technology Transfer LLC Consultant CH2M Hill Bechtel Power Corp. Retired Emerson Process Management Detroit Edison Co. Tennessee Valley Authority Luminant Power URS - Washington Division First Energy Generation Corp. Constellation Energy Consultant Babcock & Wilcox

This recommended practice was approved for revision by the ISA Standards and Practices Board members on 28 October 2010. NAME P. Brett M. Coppler E. Cosman B. Dumortier D. Dunn R. Dunn J. Gilsinn E. Icayan J. Jamison D. Kaufman K. Lindner V. Maggioli T. McAvinew A. McCauley, Jr. R. Reimer N. Sands COMPANY Honeywell Inc. Ametek, Inc. The Dow Chemical Co. Schneider Electric Aramco Services Co. DuPont Engineering NIST/MEL ACES, Inc. EnCana Corporation Ltd. Honeywell International Inc. Endress+Hauser Process Solutions AG Feltronics Corp. Jacobs Engineering Chagrin Valley Controls, Inc. Rockwell Automation DuPont Copyright 2010 ISA. All rights reserved.
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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

H. Sasajima T. Schnaare J. Tatera I. Verhappen R. Webb W. Weidman J. Weiss M. Widmeyer M Wilkins M. Zielinski

Yamatake Corp. Rosemount, Inc. Tatera & Associates, Inc. Industrial Automation Networks, Inc. ICS Secure LLC Consultant Applied Control Solutions LLC Kahler Engineering Inc. Yokogawa IA Global Marketing Emerson Process Management

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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

Contents
1 Scope ................................................................................................................................................... 9 2 Purpose ................................................................................................................................................ 9 3 Definitions............................................................................................................................................. 9 4 Functional grouping of alarms ............................................................................................................ 10 4.1 Alarm grouping .......................................................................................................................... 10 4.2 First-out groups.......................................................................................................................... 10 4.3 Spare alarms ............................................................................................................................. 10 5 Prioritization of alarms ........................................................................................................................ 11 5.1 Alarm priority selection .............................................................................................................. 11 5.2 Alarm categorization .................................................................................................................. 11 6 Order and consistency of alarms........................................................................................................ 12 6.1 Alarm consistency...................................................................................................................... 12 6.2 Alarm sequence......................................................................................................................... 12 6.3 Reorganization of alarms........................................................................................................... 12 7 Alarm colors........................................................................................................................................ 12 8 Alarm display format........................................................................................................................... 13 8.1 Physical arrangement of alarm equipment ................................................................................ 13 8.2 Alarm equipment selection ........................................................................................................ 13 8.3 Alarm lettering............................................................................................................................ 13 9 Audible alarm indication (audible signals) .......................................................................................... 14 9.1 Audible alarm signals................................................................................................................. 14 10 Alarm acknowledge, reset, and test functions.................................................................................... 14 10.1 Alarm acknowledge ................................................................................................................... 14 10.2 Alarm reset................................................................................................................................. 14 10.3 Alarm test................................................................................................................................... 14 10.4 Location of alarm acknowledge, reset, and test functions......................................................... 15 11 Unwarranted alarms ........................................................................................................................... 15 Annex A References ................................................................................................................................ 17 Annex B Alarm functional grouping panel alarm #1 (front view).............................................................. 19 Annex C Alarm priorities panel alarm #2 (front view) .............................................................................. 21 Annex D Label size guidelines................................................................................................................. 23 Annex E Letter size and spacing guide.................................................................................................... 25

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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

Foreword
This recommended practice pertains to alarms displayed using lights or light boxes. A user with both hard and soft alarm systems should also refer to ANSI/ISA 18.2 (2009), Management of Alarm Systems for the Process Industries, and/or EEMUA 191 Alarm Systems: A Guide to Design, Management, and Procurement.

Scope

This recommended practice is provided for the benefit of design engineers and, ultimately, plant operators. Use of this recommended practice will result in a more coherent and useful application of plant alarms for operations personnel. The goal of this recommended practice is to reduce alarm discrepancies, clutter, excessive noise levels, and information overload, but it is not intended for postfactum analysis of events. This recommended practice will address the following alarm-related issues. a) b) c) d) e) f) g) h) Functional grouping Prioritization Order and consistency Colors Formats and displays Audio tone and pitch Acknowledge, reset, and test functions Nuisance alarms

These items are addressed both individually and with respect to their relationships with one another. This recommended practice pertains to alarms displayed using lights or light boxes, but not softwarebased alarms (e.g., CRP-based alarms) and is intended to supplement the information provided by ANSI/ISA-18.1-1979 (R2004), Annunciator Sequences and Specifications.

Purpose

The purpose of this recommended practice is to provide advice and guidance in the development and design of plant alarm systems. The primary application for this recommended practice is fossil power plants; however, these guidelines are generic in nature, and suitable for use in other process industries.
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3
3.1

Definitions
alarm: An audible and/or visual means of indicating to the plant operator an equipment malfunction or abnormal condition that requires an operator action. annunciator: An electro-mechanical or electronic packaged alarm system, usually consisting of one or more light boxes, associated logic, and power supply. first-out: In a multiple-alarm scenario, a method of determining which alarm occurred first.

3.2

3.3

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3.4 3.5

light box: Plug-in alarm module used with hard-wired, panel-mounted alarm systems. sequence of events: A system that records the time status changes of equipment or process variables occurred, usually to a one-millisecond resolution, for use in post-event analysis.

Functional grouping of alarms

4.1 Alarm grouping In a fossil-fueled power plant, as in any process plant, the ideal way to group control and alarm functions is by process area or system. For a fossil-fueled power plant, this grouping might consist of the following major areas: a) b) c) d) e) f) g) h) i) j) k) l) Fuel handling and preparation Combustion air Feedwater and steam drum Main steam Turbine Generator Turbine extraction and condenser Condensate and feedwater heaters Exit gas cleanup Electrical auxiliaries Mechanical auxiliaries Steam auxiliaries

When a process problem or equipment failure occurs, the instrument and control functions for that process or equipment area are most likely to experience abnormal conditions that caused the problem to occur. For example, if a feedwater pump trips, the feedwater and steam drum area will most likely be first to sense an abnormal process condition or equipment failure. In this case, the operator is notified that an equipment failure has occurred. The operator then takes the appropriate corrective action. An example of alarm functional grouping is shown in annex B.

4.2

First-out groups

4.3

Spare alarms

It is important when adding alarm systems, both in new construction and in retrofit work, to ensure that each alarm group contains some spare spaces or channels, or both, to allow for future additions. By the time a project nears the end of its construction phase, spares included in the design phase often have been used to cover items overlooked in the original project definition or items added by plant operational requirements after construction began. Thus, no real spares are left for future requirements.

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The use of first-out groups when developing alarm-system requirements should be considered as a means of helping operations personnel determine which alarm, in a multiple-alarm situation, occurred first. This approach is helpful in pinpointing the originating condition, for example, in an equipment trip of process shutdown. The use of first-out grouping also allows the design engineer to subdivide an alarm system into logical groups consistent with the functional groups, such as those identified in 4.1. First-out groups are used to identify the initiating event, not to provide sequence of events. Whenever suitable, this function is fulfilled by a sequence-of-events recorder (SER) or DCS.

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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

Prioritization of alarms

To obtain maximum benefit from alarms, the arrangement should consider the needs of operators in responding to a process upset or equipment failure. By grouping alarms in conjunction with a process area, operators are able to identify the problem areas soon after alarms occur. The system designer has at his/her disposition the following means to implement the prioritization of alarms: the relative location within the light box lamp flashing speed window color associated sound

Clear conventions of using these tools should be adopted.


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5.1

Alarm priority selection

For alarms to be useful to the operator during times of equipment failure or process upset, each alarm must be displayed in accordance with a priority determined from the process requirements. In any plant, the highest priority must be placed on personnel safety. Subsequent priorities should be based on the likelihood of catastrophic equipment damage or damage to the surrounding community due to fire, explosion, toxic release, or equipment failure. In light of these requirements, the following priorities are suggested for fossil-fueled power plants: a) Personnel safety b) Equipment safety/protection 1) Catastrophic equipment failure 2) Flame safety 3) Boiler protection 4) Turbine-generator protection c) Process safety/protection 1) Combustion air system 2) Fuel system 3) Main steam and water system 4) Emissions monitoring d) Miscellaneous 1) Balance of plant-electrical 2) Balance of plant-mechanical

5.2

Alarm categorization

Each of the categories, such as shown in 5.1, may be divided as appropriate to meet the specific requirements (including the equipment types) of the plant site. Subgroups of these categories should be developed wherever necessary to avoid an accumulation of alarms that are of little value to the operator in an upset situation. Most importantly, proper prioritizing alarms will help the operator respond correctly and quickly to any upset condition.
NOTE The items and the order of such in 5.1 are suggestions only and should be modified as necessary to reflect the type of equipment and operating mode(s) involved. Examples of alarm prioritizing are shown in annex C.

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Order and consistency of alarms

The order in which alarms are displayed should take into account the prioritization of alarms. One way to accomplish prioritization in a conventional annunciator arrangement is to use a decision tree in developing the annunciator logic. This decision tree should be based on the type of unit and the operating mode(s) involved. For example, a once-through boiler would have different equipment priorities than a conventional drum-type boiler. Similarly, a small gas- or oil-fired peaking unit would have different operational requirements than a base-loaded, coal-fired unit.

6.1

Alarm consistency

Consistency in alarm presentation, order, and prioritization is necessary so the operator understands and reacts the same way for each type of alarm. Each plant site should have a standardized approach for alarm(s) presentation, order and prioritization. ANSI/ISA-18.1-1979 (R2004), Annunciator Sequences and Specifications, provides guidance in selecting the alarm functions required or desired for each application.

6.2

Alarm sequence

Particular attention should be given to specifying the alarm sequence in a plant modernization or expansion. The alarm sequence specified should be consistent with the sequences already in use wherever practical. Likewise, alarm descriptions and functions should be consistent with those already in use. The wording (and particularly the abbreviations) used in identifying alarms should be the same as those used on panel labels and engineering drawings. Alarm lettering, coloring, and response required should be consistent with that already in use wherever possible. Attention to alarm sequence, wording, lettering, coloring, and required operator response will lessen the possibility of confusion and error in response by the plant operating staff. Selection of alarm functions should be consistent with the approach already in use at the plant. Review of alarm functions and sequencing should be included as part of the P&ID review or control logic review. The review process should include both Operations and Engineering personnel to ensure suitability of alarm function as well as consistency with plant operating practices.

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6.3

Reorganization of alarms

When a major modernization or expansion of a plant is planned that will result in the addition of substantial numbers of alarms, consideration should be given to reorganizing alarm groups. This reorganization, if required, will ensure that the overall alarm functionality is maintained while eliminating the need for the operator to differentiate between old equipment alarms and new equipment alarms.

Alarm colors

Color is used in alarm systems to denote the alarm condition of the process variable or equipment in an alarm state. With conventional light-box electro-mechanical annunciators, a process variable or equipment entering an alarm condition usually is indicated by the appropriate annunciator window changing to a flashing light that is accompanied by an audible warning. The flashing annunciator window is usually red or white, but may be some other color, depending on plant standards. When the operator acknowledges the alarm, the annunciator window stops flashing but remains in its alarm color state until the annunciator is reset or the process variable or equipment returns to a normal state. The use of different colors may also be effective in prioritizing critical alarms. Caution should be exercised, however,

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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

when using colors, as some operators may be color blind to certain colors or combinations of colors, especially red combined with green.
NOTE Many plants have a combination of non-programmable and programmable alarms. The color scheme of these two alarm types should be compatible to facilitate operator-alarm recognition from other sources.

Alarm display format

The display format used to arrange alarm groupings should consider the locations of the alarm lights with respect to the operator, ambient lighting conditions, and also the control center, panelboard, or field cabinet arrangement. For example, in a central control room where multiple process units are operated, the alarms should be grouped by unit(s) and by major equipment to minimize confusion.

8.1

Physical arrangement of alarm equipment

When commercial light-box-style annunciators are used for alarm displays, the number of points to be alarmed will dictate how many windows are required. Most systems will support up to four points per lightbox. Newer, miniature alarm units, which use LED indicators rather than backlit windows, are generally designed for mounting in the control panel. These miniature alarm units typically require about as much panel space as a conventional 1/8 DIN single-loop controller (144 mm [5-21/32 in.] high by 72 mm [227/32 in.] wide). Pilot-light-styled alarms may be employed in control-room settings but are more common in field-mounted applications, where their design provides effective environmental protection.

The type of alarm unit employed should be based on the total number of points to be alarmed, the number of points in each alarm group, the panel space available, and the distance of the operator from the alarm display. For example, in a conventional board-style control-room situation, the light-box-style annunciator units would be suitable for mounting in a vertical boiler or turbine panel while still providing good visibility for operating personnel. Miniature LED-style annunciators, on the other hand, would be suitable for mounting in the benchboard beside the unit controls. Pilot-light-styled alarms require a suitable labeled (engraved or stamped) name plate indicating the process condition being alarmed. When pilot-light-styled alarms are to be employed, care must be taken to ensure that enough panel space is allowed for each name plate. Most annunciator systems provide means for an or/and logic between (field) alarms, and the resulting value commands the lamp (LED). Careful attention must be paid not to mask in this way alarms, which are important by their own value.

8.3

Alarm lettering

When light-box annunciators are used, care must be taken to ensure that lettering on window faces is large enough to permit easy reading by the operator from the control benchboard. For this reason, the use of quad-input annunciator windows should be restricted to those applications where the operator can stand directly in front of the annunciator. Quad-input window annunciators are usually suitable for fieldmounted panels, where operator access is usually required for equipment or process monitoring. In control-room settings, the use of single- or dual-input annunciator window(s) is recommended for those applications where the light boxes are to be mounted in a vertical board behind the benchboard. For further information on the size and height of annunciator labels, nameplate labeling examples from ISA-RP60.6-1984 are shown in annex D. While ISA-RP60.6-1984 addresses nameplate labeling versus Copyright 2010 ISA. All rights reserved.
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8.2

Alarm equipment selection

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annunciator window labeling, the text size and spacing information is applicable to annunciator window legends as well. Wherever possible, abbreviations used should conform to plant or company standards or the requirements of ASME Y14.38-1999, Abbreviations Acronyms (Revision and Redesignation of ASME Y1.1-1989).

Audible alarm indication (audible signals)

Audible signals (when used as part of an alarm system) are designed to call the operators attention to an alarm condition. Some confusion may arise if a number of alarms occur simultaneously, as might happen in the event of a major process upset or equipment failure. Various alarm tones may be utilized to distinguish alarms from different process areas or between alarm priority levels. Care should be taken, however, not to use so many different tones that memorization of tones is required for an operator to respond correctly to an alarm. Voice synthesized alarms and alarm pagers provide additional alternatives for alarm discrimination.

9.1

Audible alarm signals

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Alarm acknowledge, reset, and test functions

When an alarm occurs, a predictable response from the operator is desired. Similarly, predictable actions in correcting an alarm by the operator are also desired. Therefore, care should be taken to ensure that a repeatable sequence is followed in acknowledging an alarm.

10.1

Alarm acknowledge

An alarm acknowledge function should cause the audible warning device(s) to be silenced and stop the visual indication flashing. The visual indication should remain in the alarm color or light mode until the alarm condition clears or is manually reset by the operator.

10.2

Alarm reset

An alarm reset function, if included in the alarm system or display structure, should cause the visual indication to return to its non-alarm color or light mode as soon as the alarm condition clears. The reset provision should not cause any change in the visual indication while the process variable being monitored remains outside its normal limits.

10.3

Alarm test

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Audible signals may be provided by bells, horns, or piezoelectric buzzers. Alarms generally operate at a center frequency of approximately 1000 Hz, with lower limits of about 500 Hz and upper limits of about 3000 Hz. Frequencies outside these limits should be avoided due to the inability of some individuals to hear them. Audible signals should be loud enough to be heard over normal control center or equipment background noise, but not so loud as to cause annoyance or discomfort for operating personnel normally in the area. For optimum response to alarms, audible signals should be approximately 25 to 30 dB above the normal background noise level.

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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

An alarm test function should cause all visual indicators to enter the alarm state and should cause the audible signal to sound. Once the alarms have sounded, the same acknowledge and reset functions described earlier would apply. The purpose of the test function is to verify proper operation of the audible and visible indicators comprising the alarm system.

10.4

Location of alarm acknowledge, reset, and test functions

Alarm acknowledge, reset, and test functions should be located on the portion of the control panel or benchboard controlling equipment that is covered by the alarm light box or panel. For example, the combustion control benchboard would be the location of choice for the acknowledge, reset, and test push buttons for the alarm light box covering the combustion control and burner management systems. When a light box covers functions not controlled from a control panel in the control area, the acknowledge, "reset, and test devices should be located as close to the alarm light box as possible, while still ensuring easy operator access.

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Unwarranted alarms

Unwarranted alarms are alarms initiated by a monitored process variable that continuously goes in and out of alarm condition, or by high/low process variables when associated equipment is out of service. This situation can be avoided by setting the process variable limits, or alarm points, and alarm deadbands so to eliminate the effect of noisy process variables triggering repeated unwarranted alarms. Alarm cutouts (out-of-service) can be used to eliminate unwarranted alarms related to out-of-service equipment. Setting alarm limits and/or deadband is usually adjusted by changing the settings of the devices used to monitor the process.

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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

Annex A References
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS (ASME) ASME Y14.38-1999 Abbreviations and Acronyms (Revision and Redesignation of ASME Y1.1-1989) ASME 22 Law Drive P.O. Box 2900 Fairfield, NJ 07007-2900 973-882-1170 infocentral@asme.org

Available from:

ISA ANSI/ISA-18.1-1979 (R2004) ANSI/ISA-18.2-2009 ISA-RP60.6-1984 Available from: Annunciator Sequences and Specifications Management of Alarm Systems for the Process Industries Nameplates, Labels, and Tags for Control Centers ISA 67 Alexander Drive P.O. Box 12277 Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 919-549-8411 www.isa.org

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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

Annex B Alarm functional grouping panel alarm #1 (front view)

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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

Annex C Alarm priorities panel alarm #2 (front view)

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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

Annex D Label size guidelines

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ISA-RP77.60.02-2010

Annex E Letter size and spacing guide

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