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May-June 2008

Hello everyone! Sorry for the late publication of the May News – it will now be combined with June. I got tied up with projects and travelling. FYI – we are now well prepared for travel to sites as we have our CLEAR and TWIC cards.

In May, I was the Keynote Speaker at the TiPS Conference in Houston, Texas. I also got scolded by Walt Boyes for stealing his speech. Well not really – I just was up first and was obviously on the same wave-length as Walt. Here is what he said:

“Well, darn. I have to go re-write my speech I’m supposed to give tomorrow.

Ian Nimmo is giving my speech right now. Somehow, we are thinking so much alike that he’s hitting all the themes I was going to talk about.

Nimmo pointed out that 100 years ago, life WAS simpler. 50 years ago, we raised our young people to be independent, allow failure, and exposed them to real dangers and we created a generation of incredibly self-reliant and creative people.

At the same time, we have created automation systems that mean that the very way operators work is considerably different from the way they worked 50 years ago.

We’ve created a whole new category of potential accidents: the Organizational Failure.

Further, we measure safety by occupational safety metrics. “How would you feel if the major airlines measured their operational safety by looking at the number of routine injuries occurring to its staff?””

Thanks Walt, we love your Blog.

We have been bouncing from one project to another and trying to keep customers on track. We have been working on a variety of projects this last couple of months and have brought on a new Senior Consultant, Rusty Fleming.

Rusty graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1976 with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering.

Early Retiree with over 23 years experience with Union Camp Chemical Division in Savannah, Georgia.

While at Union Camp, held several positions as process engineer, plant superintendent, and design engineer.

Extensive experience in Tall Oil applications and the Ink Resin field.

Certified in Process Hazard Analysis and extensive experience in PSM related issues.

Safety Manager for chemical plant in the manufacture of emulsions for waste water treatment.

Brief experience in the Pulp and Paper industry with Georgia Pacific as process engineer.

We welcome Rusty to our growing family and welcome his experience as we expand our Process Safety Management capability. We have been involved in Staffing Assessments most of this last period with a Management of Organizational Change (MOOC) workshop for one of our customers. The MOOC is based on validating staffing changes and examines the operator’s ability to Detect, Diagnose and Respond to Abnormal Situations. Like most of our methodologies, it focuses on good Situation Awareness.

We traveled to Norway again in May. The customer encouraged us to plan this trip around their National Holiday, when all the girls dress in their native costumes.

We had a great time with the customer who is developing a new Theater Style Centralized Control Room and is working through a major Staffing Assessment. At the end of the visit, the customer took us out for a very nice traditional meal and visit to the historic town of Fredrickstad.

We also meet up with our Human factor friends Mark and Marie…always a good visit as Marie is quite a cook and knows how to put out the welcome wagon. Dave ended the trip in true British form with a couple pints in a British pub in Oslo Center.

We have also been working a lot in Ohio and the weather has been really bad. My last night there I was dodging Tornadoes and electrical storms reminiscent of Arizona in the monsoon. We are currently doing three control room projects in this part of the world and our prayers go out to the people who have lost their homes in the terrible flooding.

Thanks to our clients for a busy couple of months in: Orange, Texas (great BBQ); a Denver refinery; Phoenix Gas Conference; Lake Charles Refinery in Louisianna; Lima, Ohio; Piketon, Ohio; and Houston, Texas.

This month we will be back in: New Orleans, travelling to Canada again, and around most of the States, we have also booked a new project in Cork, Ireland and look forward to a site visit shortly. I will also be on vacation this month visiting Harding MO, and Red River NM.

These are exciting times and we are setting foundations for the next 50 years in our industry. It is a pleasure to be working with so many talented people who have captured the vision for achieving operator excellence. I was challenged this month by Dave Harold, one of the writers for a magazine that is doing an article on “Fitting the Workplace to the Worker” and he asked us for customer testimonials. Wow, I have never had to go back and ask the customer for written feedback that will be published. I know it is hard to get permission from our companies to do this, but several customers stepped up to the plate and provided insight and feedback and it was very humbling experience and also a trip down memory lane. We often do not look back on previous jobs, but here is a sample:

“Ian Nimmo and User Center Design Services provided value insight to Calgon Carbon in developing practical options to implement a consolidated control room. Ian has the rare ability to quickly analyze the culture and needs of an organization from on site interviews. He accomplishes this thorough his command of the concepts and best practices for process control that allows him to establish immediate rapport with all levels of an organization.

Ian’s initial work built a basis to design and configure a system tailored to Plant operations. Ian has been a valuable resource to confirm and identify tools that support the situational awareness model. Periodic follow up discussions have provided need information on best available products ranging from shift change software to walkie talkie head sets.”

Peter M. Yacoe, P.E.
Plant Manager
Calgon Carbon Corporation
Big Sandy Plant


“Ian has consulted for us in the area of alarm management, central control room design, and process control management and operator workload assessment. He is without doubt one of the world’s experts in the above fields and has assisted us implementing leading edge techniques with definite business outcomes.”

Angelo D’Agostino
Senior Process Control Engineer
Worsley Alumina Pty Ltd


Ian Nimmo was instrumental in helping us establish a company standard for operator graphics at Lyondell. We value his enormous expertise and excellent understanding of situational awareness and consult with him to support our efforts to establish an operational philosophy of operating by awareness.

Lothar A Lang, Ph.D.
Consulting Engineer
Control Systems and Electrical Engineering


“Ian’s depth of knowledge and ability to persuade the end-user to think beyond their immediate technical requirements to consider people and business process requirements allowed us to design a really comprehensive Statement of Requirements. This both helped us win the implementation project and deliver a successful solution that has the best chance of delivering benefits for many years to come.”

Chris Hotblack
Managing Consultant
Business Operations Consulting
Invensys Process Systems – Europe, Middle East & Africa


UCDS brought forth a new perspective and methodology that was not only useful but vital in the changes we are making in our operations group.

Michael Wright
VP Operations
Holly Refinery


Once I described him to the operator as the “Godfather” of Situation Awareness and Alarm Management. If you are working in Operations and don’t’ know who Ian Nimmo is, then you have every reason to believe that there are missing pieces in your production. “DON’T BE THROWN FOR A LOOP” once you meet him whether you are a console operator or manager in the refinery.

For once it feels good to know the truth about your process or organization even when it hurts. That is because Ian Nimmo provides clear message with guidelines and recommendation that are achievable if it’s on training or behavioral changes, or cultural changes of entire organization.

Situational Awareness and Human Machine Interface, Operator Staffing, Work Team Design, and Control Room Design are the services that Ian Nimmo provided to Hovensa, LLC in 2005. I wouldn’t have said for any company what I am about to say for UCDS. They are not promoting their products or services, instead best practices for your company.

Based on the complexity equation the impact of his study on console operator staffing at Hovensa was the product of console design for a new processing unit. Based on his recommendation a decision was made in which area would that operating unit would make the best marriage with the rest of refinery. The way Ian Nimmo designed the marriage was meant for the honeymoon to never end.

He can transform any abnormal situation into a normal situation using company concepts and his engineering talent. He will reach beyond proposing solutions that concentrate on process core values.

He has a rare content expertise in various areas, and ability to collect information and analyze hundreds of unique processes. Whether he is in the control room with operators on Friday evenings conducting interviews, or Sunday mornings in his Nomex out in the unit, or Monday morning in his suit in front of the management, Ian Nimmo makes it possible to bring people and ideas together to make continuous improvements. Think of his ideas as a money pit that you can reach by scooping your resources and transform them magically into Production Centered organization.

His publishing’s are another proof of his expertise in the field, and he spices it up with humor to cross the line and paint the visual of your current sad situation. He is the only company who will actually bring you down emotionally with the results of his studies, and bring you up by financially and more safely by leveraging your strengths.

Jasna Zekic
Staff Applications Engineer