A Data-driven Approach to Improve Control Room Operators’ Response
Tamascelli, Nicola
Scarponi, Giordano E.
Paltrinieri, Nicola
Cozzani, Valerio

How to Cite

Tamascelli N., Scarponi G.E., Paltrinieri N., Cozzani V., 2021, A Data-driven Approach to Improve Control Room Operators’ Response, Chemical Engineering Transactions, 86, 757-762.


Digitalization has significantly improved productivity and efficiency within the chemical industry. Distributed Control Systems and extensive use of sensor networks enable advanced control strategies and increase optimization opportunities. On the other hand, chemical plants are increasingly complex, equipment is highly interlinked, and it is more difficult to describe the system dynamics through first principles. Finding the root causes of process upsets and predicting dangerous deviations in process conditions is often challenging. Advanced and dynamic tools are needed to grant safe and stable operations in such a complex and multivariate environment. In this context, Machine Learning techniques may be used to exploit and retrieve knowledge from the large amount of data that chemical plants produce and store on a daily basis. Data-driven methods may be adopted to develop predictive models and support a proactive approach to process safety. The study aims to develop Machine Learning techniques to improve the response of control room operators during critical events. Specifically, alarm data originated in an upper-tier Seveso site have been collected, cleaned, and analyzed to identify periods of intense alarm activity. Alarm behavior following operator responses has been evaluated to assess whether the actions were adequate to prevent future alarm occurrences. In doing so, alarm events that reoccur within 30 minutes after an operator acknowledgment have been identified and labeled. Subsequently, a hybrid classification algorithm was trained to predict the probability that a critical alarm reoccurs after being acknowledged by the operator. This predictive tool might be used to support the operator’s decision-making process and focus his/her attention on critical alarms that are more likely to occur again in the near future.