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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 have been busy writing a lot of new papers this last month as I recover from ankle surgery, but I will be back on the road in March. Soon, I will be making available a paperback book on the “Human Side of Error”.

I have been focusing the team’s attention to “Operator Effectiveness” as we start to address the real issues with today’s current practices for alarm management. We observe the same old incomplete solutions of getting someone to write a philosophy that can be stored on a bookshelf somewhere and is never used or followed. Companies are doing alarm rationalization as a cause and effect quick fix without doing the full rationalization methodology. They are using tools that are inaccurate and full of software bugs that often take as much of the teams time as the rationalization process. But don’t worry, these software vendors who provide these poor quality products will be around next month with a new PowerPoint Sales pitch as to why you should buy licenses and their next new tool.

  • How many companies actually looks at the way a Process Control (Console/Panel) Operator Supervises the process? Is the operator being reactive or proactive?
  • What does “Proactive Control” look like and what new tools does the operator require to work this way?
  • When everything is running “Normal” what is the role and responsibility of the operator?
  • Is the operator being a good steward of the management systems and is ensuring self and others are following safety and environmental policies and procedures? How do we know if this is happening?
  • An effective operator is a good communicator, what does good look like during shift change, during maintenance work, during process changes? It is reported that 20% of accidents are caused by breakdowns in this area. What are they and how do we fix them?
  • The operator should have clear roles and responsibilities to optimize the process using control system capabilities. UCDS recently partnered with KBC Inc., experts in Operational Excellence and management systems, to fully address this topic. Our goal is to identify how a company is and should be providing 24/7 supervision of operations.

UCDS recently produced a new paper on this topic and one on alarms management revisited. We want to help companies get out of the alarm management trap of just going through the motions and not achieving measurable goals.

I will also be publishing a new paper followed by a book on the “High Performance Control Room”. I have been writing this book for a couple of years and it will be the most comprehensive control room design book available on the market.

UCDS is focused and prepared to meet your challenges and our staff is ready to take on new projects and provide complete solutions as a turnkey project under a single supplier. We do anything that impacts operator effectiveness.

We are anticipating a busy year as many companies are responding to new regulations, new business opportunities and are trying to get the waste and ineffectiveness out of their systems so they can remain competitive.

UCDS is in its 15th year of business and we have matured using continuous improvement practices to adapt and respond to customer’s needs. We have the best team possible and can cover all the bases with the team we have put together.

I will be traveling to Sweden with Chris to do a workshop with CGM at the end of March and will also have time to visit some good friends. Prior to that, I will be doing two sessions at a Lin & Associates Workshop. One on Alarm Management revisited and another on High Performance HMI and the benefits of using Task Analysis to design Large Screen Displays. Steve will be joining me at the workshop and we look forward to seeing some old friends at the event. Here is the link for more information on the workshop:

This year, our intent is to make a lot of resources available to our customers, so I am busy preparing new information.

Best wishes everyone keep an eye on the website for updates – Ian