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News February 2012

Well January has been and gone, does that sound familiar!

It was a very busy month for UCDS, Dave and I went to Trinidad with our good friend Rob Allen, we put on a very detailed Situation Awareness Workshop and a High Performance HMI workshop for our customer.

customersThis would be the first of many for this month; we are seeing a lot of interests as our customers are upgrading their automation systems. Good news for the system vendors and even better news for operators.

Operators don’t like change, and require a reason for having to change. We always start our projects by demonstrating by way of a complaint how the traditional black background graphics with high salient colors have contributed to major accidents and how they impact an operator’s performance. Putting these old graphics on a new automation system is a poor practice and may be a costly one.

We also demonstrate how the high performance HMI delivers performance improvement through improved Situation Awareness and reduction of Human Error. We are currently in the process of doing some joint projects with Lin & Associates who have developed a complete set of ASM compliant objects and tools as we collaborate and strive to improve solutions for our joint customers. The net result being graphics that are not only acceptable to the operators but are performant and deliver the benefits.

This last month has also been a busy month for new control rooms and upgrading existing control rooms. We appreciate the challenges of taking existing control rooms and transforming them to add new consoles, introduce Large Screen Displays, reduce distractions and fix lighting, environmental controls, and resolve existing issues with acoustics such as reverberation issues.

The new control rooms we are doing are being done with a vision of the future as customers are cognizant of the potential technology and people changes that will take place in the next 50 years or the life of the control room. We extract this focus during our participatory design process using the International Standards for Ergonomic Design of Control Rooms.

Most of our customers are being challenged by not only the buildings but some of the new emphasis by regulators on fatigue and the countermeasures adopted in the control room design to address this issue. How to effectively do meetings in this environment without causing distractions to other areas. To develop a better shift change that meets today’s best practices as outlined in API documents.

Harry and his team are making good progress on operator training manuals in Salt Lake City, I’m sure Harry is enjoying the snow! The team has done an outstanding job creating documents from the dust of bygone years, something really needed. This is a plant that has already been through the High Performance HMI Workshops and has the Philosophy and Style Guide now in place and have just developed new graphics which I have to say are very impressive.

Dave has been really stretched traveling to Trinidad, Canada and all over North America. Dave has been working with multiple customers from a wide variety of industries on workload assessments for operators. Our methodology is both powerful and flexible taking the bias out of the equation and allowing facts to drive the assessment.

Dave recently passed his test to become a Citizen of the USA and is now waiting for the naturalization ceremony. So we prepare to welcome him and his family, into our family as American Citizens. Dave is a very dedicated worker and is a great Engineer and I am proud to have him as a member of my team.

I just got back from another week in Norway working with a new customer on an offshore platforms control room, graphics and alarms. We introduced them to our vision of Situation Awareness and it was great to hear their operators comment after the workshops that their views had been transformed and that they now have a different perspective on this topic.

It is really nice going to Norway the people are very hospitable and do great work, they all impressive me with their command of the English language, while the English speaking countries lack of language skills embarrasses me.

So four Countries in one month, must be a record for us, the tax accountant will not be happy.

Well the time has gone fast, Dave and I are kicking off another new project in Texas which will involve a new control room, automation upgrade and redesign of graphics HMI and alarms. I will be in Chicago next, then Lima, OH, and then back to Canada. Building air miles and wearing out shoes.

Again, thank you to our customers for the faith they have put in us and allowing us to participate with and as your team.

We are looking at developing an API RP755 compliant Fatigue Risk Assessment Index Software to complement our Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) and PHMSA compliance services. This software will also replace overtime tracking and scheduling staff and will interface into existing SAP software. Anyone who may have interest in being a pilot site or provide input please contact me.

I am also contemplating a new book and was looking for feedback on publishing and if just an eBook would be suitable or should I also do hardcopy?

Ian Nimmo