Posts by admin

Learn why the alarm management safety layer is flawed and what to do to make sure abnormal situations are detected, managed, and prevented.

  The operators job is to keep the process running at optimal capacity. Operators have a direct effect on quality, they prevent unplanned downtime, respond to safety critical events, and can provide valuable feedback that can save companies millions of dollars. They are a direct link to millions of dollars’ worth of equipment. Unfortunately, they…

Read More

Control Room Operators – The Ugly Step Children

It’s true, operators are treated like ugly step children and the sad fact is they are the eyes, ears, and puppet masters of the process. There must be a good reason we have them. How much more value could they bring if we changed the way we looked at them? Is it time for a…

Read More

Join us at the Lin & Associates 2017 Workshop

Ian Nimmo will be presenting: The Enemy Within Lurking within our control rooms is a demon, who strikes at the worst possible time in the life of a control room. During the early hours of the morning driven by poor lighting, unhealthy environmental controls, fatigue takes its toll – with no fatigue countermeasures in place…

Read More

How to Get Management to Fund Your Alarm Management Efforts

Most of my clients have already implemented some form of alarm improvement process, from low hanging fruit nuisance alarm reduction to full blown alarm rationalization and documentation. For most, their efforts reflect the amount of support they received from management and the resources they had available at the time. Unfortunately, after nearly 20 years, our…

Read More

Alarm Management and Operator Intervention

(A Safety Layer with Too Many Holes) I’m sure you have heard of Independent Safety Layers, alarm management and operator intervention being one of them. Operators are the fist line of defense when alarms activate so they are a safety layer, however,  just because you rationalized your alarms does not mean the operator will respond in…

Read More

How Many Operators Do You Need?

To assess the ability to reduce or increase staffing levels, the facility must take an honest look at the quality of the workforce. How are console operators chosen? The move to a dedicated console-operator post should be treated as an upgrade in duties and pay. The selection should not be based on seniority, but on…

Read More

The Paradigm Shift in the Control Room

By Paul Noble, CEO, Activu Corporation Today’s control room is not what it was a decade ago.  Gone are the days where these spaces were based on analog or nascent digital video technology.  Control rooms have instead transformed into networked information centers that play a major role in operations; spaces where information sharing, communication and…

Read More

UCDS working with Sunoco

UCDS Helps Sunoco Design a New centralized control facility that aims to optimize their Philadelphia refinery Console Operator Bill Johnson, a 24-year Sunoco veteran, makes changes in the operations of the new low sulfur fuels unit from the new central control room. The recently finished low sulfur gasoline unit is the first plant to be…

Read More

Operators Can Operate at 100% Capacity (Optimization Means Money)

Arnold Oliver of Worsley Alumina challenged his process control group to improve process efficiency. The goal was to get operators to set setpoints closer to the maximum process capacity. To achieve this, operators needed an environment that was optimized. Operator effectiveness was the major focus for changes that proved to provide significant returns on their…

Read More

Control Room Operators and the Key Hole Effect

The key hole effect: Your control room operator is monitoring a process with several loops and several points, they have multiple screens and each screen has hundreds of graphics to navigate through, uh oh, several alarms start to activate! The operator begins to navigate through several graphics to determine the problem but has a very limited view because there are so many screens to…

Read More

New Book – Control Room Design guide

We have recently released a new book on Control Room Design. Here is the summary: Since the introduction of distributed control systems into control rooms, the mining, refining, chemical, and power industries have lived with, and suffered from, many behavioral problems common with this design. When Human Factors/Ergonomic design is introduced into a centralized control…

Read More

Rio Tinto Kennecott Case Study: Alarm Rationalization and Management, and More

The following was written by Matt Martin, Superintendent – Production Control of Rio Tinto Kennecott. At Rio Tinto Kennecott, we mine essential elements that make modern living possible. From medicine, food and shampoo, to cell phones, computers, CAT scans and hybrid electric cars, nearly everything you use today relies on materials that we produce. Our mine has…

Read More

A Lasting Plan for Alarm Management

By Ian Nimmo and Stephen Maddox | Aug 18, 2015 Summary: A well-written alarm management philosophy defines procedures that allow your team to get alarms under control now and for the long haul. Alarm management seems to be a never-ending task: company X hires consultant Y to repair their badly designed and overloaded alarm management…

Read More

Learn more about our Staffing Studies

It is extremely important to ensure that when changes to the organization are made the safety of the facility is not compromised. As such we strongly recommend a Management of Organization Change study is undertaken. Based on recent incidents, and subsequent recommendations from investigations such as the Baker report, and legislation, such as that in…

Read More

Podcast 2 – Alarm Management

In this episode of the MyControlRoom Podcast Ian discusses the importance of alarm management, and how the simplicity of color factors in to the performance of the operator. For more information as well as access to UCDS’s White Pages containing information on Safety and Alarm Management visit: http://mycontrolroom.com/download-pages/alarm-management-documents

Read More

Podcast 1- Get to know UCDS

Episode 1: In this episode Ian Nimmo shares how he started User Centered Design Services after spending decades in the field as an engineer and project manager for large scale corporations. Ian explores a few of the many services UCDS offers and what the future holds for the company. Ian and the team at UCDS…

Read More

Video – How to Save Time and Money

Unplanned downtime, equipment damage, poor product quality, loss of life, these are just some of the results caused by abnormal situations. Control room operators are the first line of defense when abnormal situations occur, how quickly they identify problems and manage the situation depends on how well we have applied human factors in the work…

Read More

With Ian Nimmo’s Help Borregaard Consolidates 8 Control Rooms

Dag Skjeltorp and Egil Willy Karlsen have become control room ergonomics experts. “We know a lot about HMIs now,” Skjeltorp said. “It is very, very easy to buy the wrong stuff.” Karlsen stressed the importance of defining HMI needs first when designing operator consoles. They started, Karlsen said, in 2001 with a project to re-design…

Read More

March 2015 news

The months are ticking by already, and we are working on a variety of projects. I am busy working on Large Screens Display projects both here in the USA and in Trinidad. Dave continues to love working in Canada and everyone else is working on a variety of projects from alarm management to High Performance…

Read More

Success Story – Operator Effectiveness Means Money

Arnold Oliver of Worsley Alumina challenged his process control group to improve process efficiency. The goal was to get operators to set setpoints closer to the maximum process capacity. To achieve this, operators needed an environment that was optimized. Operator effectiveness was the major focus for changes that proved to provide significant returns on their…

Read More

New Book from UCDS

Operator Effectiveness and The Human Side of Error Operators are the first line of defense when abnormal situations occur. We rely on operators to be vigilant and predictive when process problems occur. Humans make mistakes but when operators make mistakes it could have a major impact on the business. We must improve situation awareness, reduce…

Read More

February 2015 News from Ian

2015 has started strong with a lot of new opportunities. As usual, this time of year David volunteers to head north and enjoy some snow on the ground, while I stay in Phoenix and enjoy the 80 degree weather; well-done Dave. He also spent a week in Houston doing some High Performance HMI work. I…

Read More

Happy new year, High performance HMI and Human Factors

Happy New Year to all our friend’s and clients! Who knows what this year will bring as we start the year with falling oil prices and low fuel costs which helps many businesses but often leads to loss of work for an organization like ours.  We have been through a few of these turns over…

Read More

Reduce Unplanned Downtime Caused by Process Upsets

Alarm Management is one of the control room systems that effect operator performance but there is a bigger picture. When we look at down time, we need to think about why we have operators in the control room and ask, are they effective at mitigating and managing abnormal situations? Below is an example of the…

Read More

December News 2014

Where did the year go?  I am sorry I didn’t manage to keep blogging all year.  I guess you understand when everything gets busy some things get dropped, not because they are not important, but other things like customers and projects take the priority. Dave and I just returned from New Zealand.  We were there…

Read More

Fatal Chemical Release Killed Thousands in Bhopal, India.

Fatal Chemical Release Killed Thousands in Bhopal, India. Video Below: CSB Safety Message Warns it Could Happen Again, more Must be Done to Improve Process Safety Regulations in the U.S. to Prevent the Next Accident from Occurring. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a short video safety message marking the 30th anniversary of history’s…

Read More

Operational Excellence (where do we start)

Operational Excellence (where do we start) Many organizations have appointed a leader to initiate an operation excellence philosophy and the first thing they discover, improving operational excellence is one of the most crucial challenges facing CEOs across the globe. Indeed, multiple pressures – competition, more stringent regulation as well as investor and stakeholder expectations –…

Read More

UCDS news June 2014 – High Performance HMI, Graphics and Upcoming.

UCDS has been extremely busy on a full range of projects covering all of our standard offerings.  We are delighted that customers have been enthusiastic about our solution for overview displays.  We decided to get into this market space having seen so many failures at customer sites and talking to disappointed operators. We have had…

Read More

Welcome to UCDS’s blog!

Welcome to UCDS’s blog!  A place where we pass on to our current customers, prospective customers and friend’s some insight into what we have been and are doing and also to provide some insight into the people and company. UCDS has the best people who love what they are doing and are passionate about it. …

Read More