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Control Room Security

Hello to all our on-line friends, customers and potential customers.  UCDS welcomes you to our new website, we have been working diligently to remove the bugs and correct broken links, if you do find any please let us know.  Like you, we strive for excellence and we support continuous improvement process in all we do.

UCDS has had a very busy travel schedule again this month, with a lot of work for existing customers.  It is always nice to see satisfied customers returning to us with new work.  Poor Dave has spent a lot of time in Canada; he always seems to get the cold weather jobs so next month I am taking him to Europe for a change.  The end of this month Dave and I will be returning to Norway (not too much warmer here Dave!) to expand on some of the work we have done for our good friends at Borregaard Refinery.  We appreciate the continual trust you have in us and promise to do our best work for you.  We look forward to catching up with our good friend’s Mark & Marie Green in Oslo and Halden; our friendship is one of the treasurers we have when we travel.  Mark and Marie are exceptional Consultants and do a lot of work for customers needing good human factor/ergonomic advice and implementation; we share many common philosophies, even though we do a lot of projects very differently.  When you work in a big company you may have many people you can go to run ideas by or ask questions about something you are not sure about.  When you work in a small company you survive by the networking you do and friendships like this keep you informed about changes or new ideas.  The last time Mark and I met up he had attended some lectures by Stephen Few.  Mark not only shared what he learned but he gave me three new books to read by Few on Dashboards; how to show people numbers and some interesting graphical ways to show information.  Now that is what friendship and collaboration is all about.  I love these guys and would do anything for them.  By the way, apart from Marie being a good consultant and very knowledgeable about alarm management, she is one of the finest chefs I have ever had the pleasure to know and taste the fruits of her labors.

As you may have noticed, we have done a complete facelift to our website, many customers commented that the old design was hard to read on some browsers, so we listened and responded. We have added a lot of new stuff and will be adding a lot more in the next few months. Our goal is to make it clear what we do and how we can help you.  We are looking at expanding our services even more as we continue to grow and maintain our professional standards.

It is a joy to have Christi working with us.  I went on a trip to California with her this last week and we had a great site visit to one of our customers from last year who has called us back and is starting to implement the recommendations from our last visit.  We had great fun looking at how to add an additional control room console and how to modify their existing control room to remove the old panels and existing desk/console that shall we say has a few ergonomic challenges.  This single console will be replaced by three new sit/stand ergonomic consoles that will eventually support a new High Performance HMI.

Like most capital projects it will be done in phases, doing minor improvements until they finally achieve the vision we have shared with them.  Limitations exist and compromises have to be made when you take a very old electrical panel and all of its wiring and convert it to today’s automation technology, some of the work will be done during shutdowns, but a lot is being done while the plant is running which requires good planning and careful implementation.  During my visit I learned about a couple of security threats that got this plants attention and obviously these concerns are going to have to be addressed during the control room refurbishment.  This was one plant that I least expected to hear this from, but talking to the operators it is a real threat and something that makes them lose sleep at nighttime.

Talk about timing, I just finished a Chapter in my new book on this topic and I had done a lot of new research, studying the new and future regulations, training courses and new materials that are being discussed for Chemical Plant’s and Pipeline Control Room Security.  All of our team has gone through the homeland security training courses and Anti-terrorism training.  One of the new services we are going to offer is “Building Vulnerability Assessments”.  We have done this to some extent on all our control room projects, we developed a checklist years ago before this became a hot topic and we have sat down with site security, corporate security folks and developed a strategy to address concerns during conceptual and detailed control room design.  But this is going to be a lot more than that.  Even if you have no plans to upgrade or replace your control room, a couple of our experts will come to your facility and complete the assessment, something I think your insurance companies will value.  It will be very comprehensive and will identify strengths and weaknesses and make prioritized recommendations for a continuous improvement plan.

The assessment will not be just the physical building but will incorporate an assessment of critical electrical systems.  Are electrical distribution systems located in secure locations?  Does electrical emergency backup power exist for all areas within the building or for critical areas only?  Is the emergency power system independent from normal electrical service, particularly in critical areas?  The assessment will focus on assets value, threat/hazard, vulnerability, and risk and will be compliant with the latest thinking from Homeland Security, and public security organizations.  I soon hope to be introducing you to a new team member who will focus on this part of the business.

We continue to make good progress on HP HMI projects with our good friend’s from Lin & Associates doing the implementation of the graphics.  We have a major project in Trinidad that is going extremely well and getting good feedback from the plant operators.

As you can see, UCDS continues to strive toward our goal of being the go to company for control rooms, covering 100% of the related tasks that goes on in the control room.  We have done this by adding complementary expertise in Electrical, Instrumentation, Engineering, Control Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Operations Management, Training, HFE, and when necessary, bringing in expertise by our Affiliates.   Please contact us if we can assist you in your control room at