Making chemical plants safer

Sunday, 31 August, 2003

Manufacturers will be getting a helping hand to make their chemical processing plants safer and more effective, thanks to new technology pioneered by a university spin-out company.

Experts at Hazid Technologies, based in the UK, are 'fine-tuning' on a computer aid, Hazid, initiated by researchers in the university's Chemical Engineering and Computer Science departments.

With help from a research and development award from the UK Department of Trade and Industry, the innovative technology will help designers and plant operators to spot hazards such as fires or chemical leaks during the planning stage, before they arise while the factory or plant is operating.

One of the standard industry methods for detecting such hazards are 'hazop' studies, which are currently carried out by teams of experienced professional engineers who make intensive studies of workplace diagrams.

These studies take several days each for a small plant unit and take many hours of a team's work. Hazid will help the hazop team by automatically reading the plant diagrams, automatically applying hazop logic to spot potential causes of hazards and then tracing their potential consequences.

Company director Jim Madden said: "Hazid will be able to automate the most engineer-intensive parts of the widely used hazop method and will drastically reduce the time and effort of these highly skilled and experienced professional engineers while also producing a more consistent, complete and auditable analysis.

"New reporting and drill-down facilities will give the engineers faster, clearer insights into the results of the analysis and assist them to modify the design to eliminate the hazards before the plant is built," he added.

Hazid integrates with computer-aided design (CAD) and IT methods used in the industry, therefore it will fit companies' well-established workflow and information management procedures. Hazid will help improve plant safety by making information on potential hazards easily available to designers, management, and health and safety regulators.

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