How to Create Control Room Design Specifications

The basis of any control room design specification should be based on the International Standard for Ergonomic Design of Control Centers ISO 11064. The document is in 7 parts, part 6 being the main specification. Before you can use this part 6 of the standard much work needs to be done clarifying the control room … Continued

Understand the Control Room Design Layout Requirements

The control room design layout is conceived during the Conceptual Design Phase of a control room project and formalized during the Detail Design Phase. The requirement comes from the initial data collection phase capturing and analyzing functions and tasks, developing room layouts, furnishing designs, displays and controls, and communication interfaces to necessary to satisfy needs … Continued

5 Ways to Better Equip Your Control Room Operator

In control rooms are day-to-day issues and systems that impact the performance of control room operators, the most common are defined as compromises to Situation Awareness. We will review each of the five and provide insight into practical solutions to implement them. The first is providing Adequate Information, control rooms are full of data, but little … Continued

3 Things You Didn’t Know About High Performance HMI

The High-Performance HMI is grounded in ASMTM principles. The Honeywell ASM Consortium which I used to be the Program Director and founder did extensive research into HMI graphics practices. At the time, Honeywell was locked into a development path which was not graphics friendly and was before the decision to switch to a Windows-based control … Continued

Why High Performance HMI Is Often Misunderstood in the Control Room

The processing industry has evolved from physical instruments on a panel to electronic physical controllers on the panel to a limited group of 8 faceplates on a black background which replicated the electronic controllers. The industry identified that this limited view did not show the context of the faceplate and relied on the operator mental … Continued

How Alarm Management Could Save Your Company Millions

Alarm Management is more than just another chore companies must do to comply with Regulations, it is a great investment and has an immediate ROI when done correctly. Unfortunately, it is often treated as a chore with no ROI. Let me say first off that no plant or process is designed to run in Abnormal … Continued

How to Do Your Own Alarm Management Training

Alarm management training is something that many companies skip assuming that operators will figure out how to respond to an alarm, they do this because that is the way it has always been done. As alarms get more complex, more rational, and more ways to configure them using multiple alarm modes and attributes. Some alarms … Continued

How to Create an Alarm Management Policy

Alarm Management is probably one of the most written about topics in control theory and one of the best-documented methodologies covered by International and local standards and guidance documents, yet, still many companies do not know where to start or how to get a handle on a bad alarm management system. The problem stems from … Continued

Types of Organizational Change Management

Organizational change can come in many forms. The most common today is workload balancing, many companies have been through the dark period of de-manning and laying the workforce off to save costs. This came after automation reduced the need for the number of outside workers. Now because of changes to equipment, shutting down some units … Continued

ISO 11064 Is Still Crucial in Control Rooms. Here Is Why.

ISO 11064 is the only Ergonomic Standard that comprehensibly addresses the Human Factors and Ergonomics of a control room. The role of the standard is twofold, it addresses the risk to humans through Repetitive Stress Injuries or MSDs which have been identified globally to cost industry more than $508 Billion which includes human error, turnover … Continued

Fatigue Risk Management Is Just About Keeping People Awake

Fatigue Risk Management is focused on two import aspects: alertness and fatigue that leads to falling asleep. Studies show that many shift workers acknowledge falling asleep at work due to irregular work-rest schedules. Nodding off has in many places been an acceptable byproduct of shift work but is extremely dangerous for process control operators who … Continued

Fatigue Risk Management Systems Could Bring New Life to Your Tired Operators

Recent studies of workers have identified that job dissatisfaction along with a previous history of MSDs were the two most significant predictive factors for employees reporting work-related injuries. A 2013 Gallup poll finds that 70% of US workers are dissatisfied with their jobs. This results in a $550 Billion loss in productivity. Shift-workers, particularly those … Continued

3 Things to Change to Better Manage Operator Workload

Operator workload is driven by three main topics: The physical equipment they monitor. The interactions they do on a day-to-day basis. The automation system. If you want to influence the workload you must make changes to one of these three areas of influence. The easiest one to comprehend is the physical equipment under their control. … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

50 Shades of (Grey Scaled Graphics)

Why Switch Your Rainbow Graphics to a Boring Shade of Grey? First of all, you’re not just changing the background color on your existing graphics, your reducing the number of graphics by incorporating human factors into the design, using analog objects, trends, and regrouping objects so that the graphics provide visual interpretation of what’s important … Continued

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 … Continued

Podcast 12- Disasters and Emergencies Part 3

This is part 3 of a 3 part series where Ian Nimmo, president of User Centered Design Services, discuss Disasters, Diagnosis and Emergencies. To learn more about UCDS and Ian Nimmo please visit

UCDS December 2015 News: Automation Safety Webinar

It has been a very different year for UCDS. Our traditional work patterns dramatically changed which meant we did a lot more travelling than usual. I started the year recovering from foot surgery for a snapped Achilles issue but managed to make a trip in March to Sweden to visit with CGM and work on … Continued

Podcast 11- Disasters and Emergencies Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3 part series where Ian Nimmo, president of User Centered Design Services, discuss Disasters, Diagnosis and Emergencies. To learn more about UCDS and Ian Nimmo please visit

Podcast 10- Disasters and Emergencies Part 1

In this special 3 part episode Ian Nimmo, president of User Centered Design Services, discuss Disasters, Diagnosis, and Emergencies. If you would like more information about UCDS and Ian Nimmo please visit

Borregaard Biorefinery Moves to a Centralized Control Room With the Help of UCDS

Borregaard biorefinery pulp and paper operation in Sarpsborg, Norway, was originally established in 1889. Over the years, significant investments have been made in the facility, including a new pulp-drying machine; new cutting, baling and, reeling equipment; and conversion of the bleaching plant to sulphite pulp. The original digester house, built in the early 1950s, was … Continued