Alarms and alarm management are a growing problem, both on the bridge and in the ECR. Many alarms are necessary on the bridge, to indicate the status of safety-critical equipment or to alert the operator regarding a dangerous situation. However, the number of alarms and indications has increased from solely being related to navigation to include engine room/platform systems and now also communication/radio station alarms. Many instruments have their own alarm, and systems and alarms are not integrated. Many alarms are statutory requirements, but that does not make them appropriate all the time. As if this were not enough, much equipment designed for land and office use is making its way on to ships. Faxes, printers, and computers on the bridge all add to the plethora of alarms, making it even more difficult to judge
FIGURE 9.21 Stand-by area in close vicinity of the operating area. (Personal photograph of M. Lundh.)
where they come from (digital beeps are hard to place in space). It is also very difficult to judge the degree of urgency. In the ECR, we also see and hear more alarms, and alarm systems are more complex than before. The presentation of alarms (for example, long alarm lists on paper or screen) often makes it hard to interpret and prioritise the alarms (see Figure 9.22). Especially in emergency conditions, it would be beneficial if the alarm presentation helped operators pinpoint the initiating factors. If it were possible it would be helpful to suppress certain less urgent, secondary, alarms.
IMO 982 provides some guidance for alarm management and alarm design, but it does not solve all problems. The following list is based on IMO (2000), with some added comments, and in most cases applies to both the bridge and the engine control room.