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Good Control Rooms Do Not Just Happen

This has been an incredible month so far.  I started the month in Houston at the ISA Awards where I received my Fellow award.  Let me share a little of the experience with you.

Citation: In recognition of visionary development of Abnormal Situation Management.

Ian Nimmo is President of User Centered Design Services Inc. and founder of the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium which focuses on bringing knowledge of the industry’s best practices in areas such as alarm management, operator training, procedural operations, and control room environment to its customers.  His lustrous career in the automation industry has resulted in methodologies used around the world for which he has received numerous awards.  Nimmo became a member of ISA in 1991.

This was a great honor. I am grateful to Paul Gruhn for being my sponsor and to Nick Sands of DuPont and Donald Dunn of Aramco for also nominating me.

The award night was made special by having so many good friends to share this moment with.  I am grateful to Doug Rothenberg who provided friendship and support to me.

It was a special night and a chance to celebrate with the other Fellows at a special luncheon and also at the banquet.  My congratulations to the other honorees, it is a pleasure to share this experience with you:

Randy K. Buchanan, Ph.D.
Aerospace Industries and Test Measurement Divisions
The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA

Citation: In recognition of leadership in the design and development of space hardware processing and automated planetary and space emulation.

About:  Dr. Buchanan is an Associate Professor and Assistant Director at the University of Southern Mississippi and is well known for many engineering and scientific innovations employed by NASA for which he has received several awards.  Dr. Buchanan has authored numerous scientific publications, and recently was awarded a U. S. patent in automation.  Dr. Buchanan became a member of ISA in 1993 and is also a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the American Institute of Physics and Society of Physics Students.

George Shu-Xing Cheng, Ph.D.
Northern California Section
CyboSoft General Cybernation Group, Inc., Rancho Cordova, California, USA

Citation: In recognition of the invention, development, and deployment of Model-Free Adaptive (MFA) control technology.

John P. Gerry, PE
ExperTune Inc., Hartland, Wisconsin, USA

Citation: In recognition of pioneering the development of Optimization, Control and Loop-Tuning Software

I spent the following day in the ISA SP101 HMI Committee discussing something near and dear to my heart, the High Performance HMI.  I have a passion to ensure that industry learns the lessons from past failures and embraces the human factors known to improve operator performance in this area.

This month, a customer confirmed a new P.O. to do a gap analysis on one of their refineries units HMI’s.  I have done this many times in the past, but this time I want it to be different.  I have been working on a more formalized approach to conducting a gap analysis and determine what meets industrial practice and what differentiates best practices.  I have developed a ladder approach with some standards based on the ASM Consortium Guidelines, SP 101’s current thoughts and EEMUA 201 Guidelines with insight from the Norwegian Standards for SAS and potential new standards being developed by Statoil.

I visited with good friends from EnerSys, who are developing (with our help) a total solution for the Pipeline PHMSA Regulation.  We reviewed the new HMI they have developed for SCADA based on High Performance HMI principles, which is impressive and is going to make an impact in this arena.  We discussed a new initiative we have, developing the conformance policy statement for customers.  We are very excited about this new opportunity and intend to provide CRM conformance, High Performance HMI services, fatigue management, improved communications practices, Situation Awareness Workshops and upgrades to existing control rooms.

I travelled to Norway for a pleasant weekend with my two favorite Human Factor Experts, Mark & Marie Green.  It is always good to visit them as Marie is one of the best cooks I know and they are always concerned with improving their business and promoting human factors.  It is a great time to share ideas and discuss industrial issues. We spent a lot of time discussing the PHMSA Regulation and my ideas for doing the High Performance HMI gap analysis.  I treasure their input as Mark has unique ways of structuring ideas into reality and presenting them in an easy to understand format.

I spent a day visiting one of our customers, Borregaard.  They are a very unique and empowering company that is currently lifting themselves out of tradition and breaking the mold and re-creating themselves. Their pursuit of best practices is impressive; they have re-organized their organization unchanged probably since their foundation over 100 years ago to a new leaner company focused on production.  We conducted Operator Workload Analysis and Management of Organizational Change for them which is a giant step going from inside/outside operators to dedicated positions with new rotation and shift changes.  They also took our Work Team Design and have re-structured all of their management and supervision and are proud of the outcome.  They are giving several presentations and will be found at the Honeywell European User Group this fall.

During my visit, they let me take a lot of photographs of their new control building we helped them design.  It is very impressive and was opened up to 80 visitors from the ife alarm management and control room conference being held in the local town of Sarpsborg. The attendees were all impressed at Borregaard’s proud achievement.  The pride they have is evidenced in the detail from Smartboards in each conference room to the tidy wiring in the computer rack room. I have not seen a rack room as professionally done.

I hope you enjoyed viewing my digital photo tour of the control room and building.  Good control rooms do not just happen; they are designed by people with knowledge about the industry, about operations, and about ergonomics. UCDS has those unique skills.

I am looking forward to the next 3 weeks.  I will be in Kansas for the next 2 weeks and then Houston the week after and then on to Salt Lake City for a staffing update for an old customer.