Process Upset is a process outage caused by some kind of operational disruptions and failures on the course of its performance. Process upset is a result of certain problem which disturbs the normal way of process functioning, and may cause certain level of emergency. Since a process has suffered from a process upset (especially a process engaging a significant technological component), it might be necessary for the process owners to immediately apply qualified recovery actions for restoring its technological settings and ceasing possible negative environmental impact (for example in a case of technogenic pollution). Process upsets can be signs of many possible underlying defects: the more imperfect or unstable the process design and organization are, the higher is probability of a process upset and its consequences. In theory every process has certain resistive capacity against upsets due to preventive mechanisms engaged into process design.
Process upsets depress the business activity of an organization; hence sometimes they are caused by malevolent efforts of unfair competitors who commit sabotage. So it is a strategic interest of every company to protect its processes against any external intrusions. Process upsets can be caused by:
- Inefficiencies in the process design, organization and control;
- Human factor (failures caused by the personnel servicing the process);
- Intrusion and sabotage;
- Natural disasters and other emergencies;
- Exhaustion of equipment and personnel, or unsafe exploitation of machinery;