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November 2009

This month, I have deliberately waited to post the news as this is my favorite month for preparing for the holidays.  We start the month with a good old English tradition celebrating Bonfire night, which means a big party at my place.  Poor old Guy Fawkes gets his lot as we celebrate the saving of King James and his parliament and the birth of the Authorized Bible.

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving and the birth of America and again the hand of God in their deliverance. I am again grateful to David Barton who reminds us:

“The tradition of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and thank Him for His blessings dates back almost four centuries in America. Colonists held Thanksgiving services in Texas in 1541, in Florida in 1565, and in Virginia in 1607 and 1619, but it is from the Pilgrims that we derive the current tradition of a Thanksgiving that includes prayers to God, a meal with friends, and a time of athletic competition.

When we review the calamities, which afflict so many other nations, the present condition of the United States affords much matter of consolation and satisfaction. Our exemption hitherto from foreign war – an increasing prospect of the continuance of that exemption – the great degree of internal tranquility we have enjoyed – the recent confirmation of that tranquility by the suppression of an insurrection which so wantonly threatened it – the happy course of public affairs in general – the unexampled prosperity of all classes of our citizens; are circumstances which peculiarly mark our situation with indications of the Divine beneficence towards us.

In such a state of things it is, in an especial manner, our duty as people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience.

Deeply penetrated with this sentiment, I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States, to set apart and observe Thursday, the nineteenth day of February next, as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer: and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the great Ruler of nations for the manifold and signal mercies which distinguish our lot as a nation. particularly for the possession of constitutions of government which unite and, by their union, establish liberty with order; for the preservation of peace, foreign and domestic; and for the seasonable control, which has been given to a spirit of disorder, in the suppression of the late insurrection; and generally for the prosperous course of our affairs, public and private; and, at the same time, humbly and fervently to beseech the kind Author of these blessings. graciously to prolong them to us – to imprint on our hearts a deep and solemn sense of our obligations to Him for them – to teach us rightly to estimate their immense value – to preserve us from the arrogance of prosperity and from hazarding the advantages we enjoy by delusive pursuits – to dispose us to merit the continuance of His favors by not abusing them, by our gratitude for them, and by a correspondent conduct as citizens and as men – to render this country, more and more, a propitious asylum for the unfortunate of other countries – to extend among us true and useful knowledge – to diffuse and establish habits of sobriety, order, morality, and piety – and, finally, to impart all blessings we possess or ask for ourselves, to the whole family of mankind”.

The great George Washington knew the benefit of peace, the horror of war and the time of Thanksgiving.  We too should stop and reflect on all the good gifts we have been blessed with.

As for UCDS Inc., we have been blessed in this time of recession in the world.  As many of our customers are finding, it is hard and they have had to let go of good people, while still striving to achieve hard earned profit and be sustainable and ready for better times.

Control Room Design
We are thankful and take this week to thank those customers who have contracted with us to deliver them a state of the art best practice control room. We are currently doing this in Denver, Connecticut, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Saudi Arabia, Norway and India.

Control rooms still in the building phase in Port Arthur – Texas, Convent – Louisiana, Cork – Ireland, Australia, Canada.

That is a lot of control rooms and we have done every one to the ISO 11064 Ergonomic Design Standard and had a lot of fun doing them with some great people.

HMI Design
This has been an exceptional year for new High Performance HMI design, our new book has been a great success with many companies accepting it as a company guideline and purchasing multiple copies.  We have had ground breaking success as we have introduced new Overview Displays using Large Screen Displays with some very large video walls, some looking to exploit the new LED technology. We have a new enhanced HP HMI Workshop.

Alarm Management
We have been employed at many of these sites to help customers get control of their alarms.  One of our customers has achieved a 72% reduction in alarms and now meets the EEMUA 191 guidelines.  A great achievement and a blessing to those operators that previously reacted to alarms and now are more predictive, less stressed, and feel more in control.  I am sure a great tool in this will be Doug Rothenberg’s new book on Alarm Management; I just got my copy and will be reading it over the holidays.  It looks very impressive and full of a lot of facts!  We have developed one of the Best Philosophy documents available on the market and we always tune it to each specific customer and site.

Operator Staffing Assessments
We have done a very large number of operator staffing assessment both for Inside Console Operators or (Control Operators) and Field or Equipment Operators. We have now done this successfully in multiple industries from Refining, Petrochemicals, Copper, Aluminum, and Power Industry.  I think one of our greatest achievements has been the endorsement we have received from both management and Unions alike; addressing what can be a very political issue and very sensitive subject.

Management of Organizational Change (MOOC)
Every staffing assessment we have done we always endorse our formal methodology to address MOOC and to ensure that any change in staffing, equipment or environment is checked out through our scenario based methodology.  The methodology investigates the safety aspects and ensures that no task is forgotten and that operators can always ensure safe operation and have the time and ability to safely shut a process down or recover from an Abnormal Situation.

One customer recently shared how this activity provided the operator’s with confidence that moving form a multiple control room environment to a single centralized facility while looking at a significant reduction in the workforce was not only achievable but was better.

In the recent Texas City accident we witnessed large loss of life which may have been prevented had MOOC been one of the management systems.  In the Baker Report we hear of the re-enforcement of this management system and we have also been informed by the Chemical Safety Board and OSHA of the need for all plants to accept and use this methodology.

We have a very successful workshop on this subject and we actually do it on site and review real changes, real scenarios, and fix what could be really expensive and life threatening mistakes and oversight.

As we celebrate Americas Thanksgiving let me say thank you to all our friends, customers and associates for another year of business and the opportunity to replace many of the mistakes that have infiltrated our industry over the last 50 years.  Today, we are witnessing a revelation in control rooms, High Performance HMI, Alarm Management and how we staff plants.  This paradigm shift is exciting, is very cost effective and is not only helping operators perform better with less human errors, but is producing increased profitability, improved maintenance, less variability and improved quality with reduced energy costs.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.