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News from UCDS!

Welcome to this month’s news from UCDS. In the midst of a growing workload, the team has managed to get some well-deserved vacation time in, so everyone is ready for a busy couple of months.

I know many of you are interested in what sort of projects we are working on. I think it would be accurate to say that this year has been a record for the number of workload staffing studies we have ever done in a single year. Many of our customers have been requesting we provide staffing recommendations and assessments for both “Normal” and Abnormal” operations. We have two very good and widely accepted methodologies to address these plus the customer also gets potential improvement benefits as we identify tiny holes in their operating practices.

Our new High Performance HMI Task Analysis is receiving good reviews from customers. It provides customers with a better way to define what information should be on the overview screens and how the information should be presented.

We started offering this in response to customer need. Customers have told us that they are now starting to get good results from HP HMI projects, but the large overview screens were not getting used by operators. As we replace many of our competitor’s failed HP HMI graphics at customer sites they are responding by being petty and aggressively attacking our partner’s graphics. There is no need for this childishness. Let’s all keep in mind that customer satisfaction should be our primary concern. It is definitely one of our core values.

Every graphic developed can be criticized. This is why I tell designers that this is a continuous improvement process and doing sketches upfront can avoid many of the non-compliance with Philosophy and Style Guides.

When it comes to crossing lines on graphics we have guidelines in the philosophy and style guides to address how it can be done if it cannot be avoided. Early in my career, I used to design printed circuit board layouts and I had to figure out how to make connections without crossing other lines. I became proficient at it and I applied that skill to drawing level 3 graphics. It is hard to keep passing this down the line to the people who build graphics in companies but it is rewarding when we see the graphics pass a verification and validation test. Unfortunately not many companies follow through with this step. In our philosophy we always include a verification matrix to be used to score a graphic against the philosophy document and other best practices.

We are still doing control rooms and our new architect, Chris, is keeping very busy on projects. With our new extended services we stay involved in all stages of control room project. Also, look for our new book to be out soon

We have been extending our alarm management services and have been getting more involved in alarm rationalization projects. We have been asked by many of our customer base to get involved after DCS vendors and alarm management vendors have provided a poor solution. I hear some common themes from customers and their operators consisting of criticism regarding lack of knowledge and experience of the individuals being sent out on these projects and a lack of understanding by the operations team reps lack of clarity and detail within the Alarm Philosophy. We also hear a lack of employee participation as consultants do not listen and address the operator’s problems and perceptions. We have been providing a short workshop on alarm rationalization, updates to the Philosophy document, leadership of the rationalization team, and training on how to be effective and moving into dynamic alarm management. We have been reviewing the ProSys tools and their methodology for implementing the rationalization process and my conclusion is they have a clear advantage and strength when addressing dynamic alarming over their competition. We are going to examine this further.

For some of our International clients, I am planning a workshop tour of Asia. Any company in any industry, in either Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Australia who would like either an onsite workshop or would like to attend a workshop in one of your major cites let Steve Maddox our Sales Director know and we will plan to come and visit with you. I am offering a full range of our workshops covering all our services plus our new workshop on human and organizational accidents based on James Reasons book,“Understanding Organizational Accidents”.

Dave and I are preparing for trips back to Norway, Hawaii and New Zealand. Christi will be learning the joys of working in Canada (we can’t keep her working only in Louisiana and Texas). Harry is getting ready for winter in Salt Lake City and I keep telling him everyone wants to go there.

In closing, I want to send a quick hello to our friend Jen in Brisbane with Rio Tinto.