Why Choose UCDS?

Home » About UCDS » Why Choose UCDS?

Who We Are

User Centered Design Services Inc. Is an especially unique company, we stand out against the competition because we are the only company that has developed a complete human factors methodology that integrates unique steps that address every aspect of the operator’s job. UCDS is special because of Ian Nimmo.

Ian Nimmo is an ISA-recognized - award-winning - engineering fellow. An expert in operational best practices and operator performance. Ian's expertise covers human factors, control room management systems, operator user interface, situation awareness, and abnormal situation management. Ian founded and directed the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium where he developed best practices and guidelines to improve the operator’s ability to detect, respond, and manage abnormal situations. Ian received a multi-million-dollar grant to research and address control room operator situation awareness focusing on detection, response, and management of deviations and other abnormal events that if not managed properly & quickly, often cause equipment damage, downtime, & energy waste.

Over 20 years ago, Ian started his own company – User Centered Design Services, Inc. A unique company that has helped over 1,000 engineers with projects from alarm rationalization to designing a real-time situation awareness display that allows operators to predict potential hazards before alarms activate. He has been closely involved with the development of the EEMUA 191 (Alarm Management Guideline) as well as the ISA 18.2 alarm best practice model, the ISO 11064 (Ergonomic Control Room Design) and the ISA 101 (HMI Graphics Standard). Ian developed a one-of-a-kind system to measure operator workload based on the complexity of the processes they manage using a scoring system. Using this system Ian can mathematically determine if an operator workload is low, high, or manageable. His system takes into consideration all job activities, the effectiveness of the automation system, and the effectiveness of the environment, user interfaces, and work practices He is a published author, known for his book: The High-Performance HMI Handbook.

First-hand production and automation experience enable UCDS to help clients change the culture and improve operational integrity including a substantial reduction in operational costs. Our method is centered around human performance, human factors, and specifically understanding the responsibilities of the operator. We work very closely with both engineering, automation, and the operators to identify why their support systems like the alarms are not improving performance and which user interfaces and behavior factors are hindering operator performance. We do this by identifying gaps in the Conduct of Operations and developing management systems that support a high level of Operational Discipline.

In conclusion, UCDS is a control room and field operations – human performance company. Below, you can see our control room model starts with measuring workload and ends with a control room design that integrates each step into the final 3D rendering of the control room. Our Field Operation model specifically addresses workload, task management, dives deep into your conduct of operations (site standards, policies, and guidelines), and then looks at how well operators understand their roles, responsibilities, and their effectiveness at performing their tasks. This is a deep dive into operational discipline. Ensuring every task is performed correctly, every time, even when nobody is watching. During this process, we help you develop a Best in Class “Conduct of Operations & Operational Discipline” program.

The safety and profitability of an organization are directly impacted by the people - the ones performing the tasks required for the organization to succeed.

UCDS map

“Survey respondents acknowledged the potential for operators to significantly influence plant performance, as well as ongoing need to improve measures that would make them more effective in their jobs. When asked to what extent better prepared operator could positively influence key performance metrics, respondents placed significant accountability in the hands of the operators.

Operators not only have a big impact on availability, equipment damage and personnel safety, but can play a big role in quality, environmental and economic performance as well. But an overwhelming majority of survey respondents also confirmed the increasing scope of board operator responsibilities, with more than three-fourths indicating a growing workload."

- Keith Larson, ed., “Operator Interface—State of the Technology Report,” Control, April 2015.  (Also See Doug Rothenberg’s book Situation Management for Process Control)

Customer Scenario

Does this sound familiar?

  • You have an older production facility with control hardware from different vendors, ranging from pneumatic to distributed control. An upgrade of DCS equipment is necessary to increase reliability, reduce maintenance costs and implement advanced control, but you are unsure of what new equipment purchases will best suit your needs.
  • Your plant is split into multiple control rooms, each serving one or two units. The buildings are old, some are in poor condition, and they all place your operators too close to the unit in case of fire, explosion, or toxic release. Your safety personnel are saying you must spend a significant amount of money to replace, relocate or upgrade the buildings.
  • Benchmarking surveys indicate a surplus of operators. Upper management is considering first quarter staff cuts, but it is unclear how to decrease worker population without compromising safety.
  • It falls to you to find cost-effective strategies, justify a positive payout, and secure approval for expenditures.

How We Help

User Centered Design Services, Inc. can best serve a client when we are brought on to the project early. After an introductory workshop to educate site management about the benefits of Best Practices implementation, we move forward with a feasibility study, assessments, and analysis, along with helping in the development of detailed justification points to be presented for managerial approval of a front end loading process. We then move into design, staffing, and even architect and vendor selection. No stone is left unturned.

Are you ready to rid yourself of the guesswork and get our world-class team on your side?

Now is the time to put our extensive, proven experience to work for you.

UCDS client logos

Schedule Consultation

Simply fill out the form and we will be in contact with you shortly to schedule a phone or web conference to answer questions and discuss how we can help your organization.