What a wonderful time of year, but it represents the beginning of the end of the year. We go into Thanksgiving season this year with grateful heart’s for the year we have had so far. Back in England this was Harvest Festival, a time of reaping and bringing in the harvest and giving thanks for the crop.
We have worked on some very interesting projects and done a lot of new things.
This year we unexpectedly got a lot of alarm management projects which we had not planned or anticipated. We thought that the market was saturated by so many companies who sell alarm management tools and are offering the services to go with them. However, we have had a number of customers who have come to us for help. We have supplied alarm philosophy documents, workshops and helped customers get started doing the rationalization.
I have asked what makes UCDS Inc. qualified to do this work for these customers when so many other companies are jostling for this work. Someone answered; “at least we have read and understand the latest standards and guidelines”. It seems as though many organizations have personalized the solution and ignored the EEMUA 191 Guidelines. They ignore the life cycle model in ISA 18. However, UCDS Inc. acts as an enforcer of the standards and puts the guidelines into a practical solution and helps their customers understand “why” and “what” the guidelines and best practices are for this subject.
I guess the same is true when we apply our services to the High Performance HMI, control room ergonomic design standards. I thought this was quite a complement. Again, we have had another record year and I can only thank my staff for all their hard work and determination to do not just a good job but the best they possibly can do, sparing nothing for customer satisfaction.
We have launched an updated website having received much feedback from customers. We have joined the Center for Human Factors and Ergonomics and are getting ready for the first workshop and the start of the research program for 2014.
We are working in several different countries and providing a wide range of services and are working on releasing new books in the New Year. People have asked why I have not been publishing as many papers as I used to. The answer is all the spare effort is going into books and we plan on launching videos and webcasts that will allow our customers to share the knowledge and vision internally within their organizations.
This year, we invested significant funding into marketing and have been adopting our service solutions to line up with the changing marketplace. Many customers come to us for workload studies because we have the only complete and unique workload study that not only addresses console operators but also field operators and is a lot more than just a simple time and motion study. Our detailed solution can also incorporate supervision and front-line management assessments.
One constant we observe is change and change involves the workforce. Customers are challenged to keep pace and adjust and we have aligned ourselves to be able to help our customers respond to these challenges.
We are all booked up for the remainder of the year. I will be heading to Hawaii with Christi next Sunday for two weeks with our customer in Honolulu helping them get control of their alarms. Chris and Dave are working on multiple projects and also getting ready for a new project in Russia. We have had a lot of experience in working projects in many different countries from Australia, Malaysia, India, England, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, Antwerp, the middle east, China, Japan, North and South America and many more including Trinidad, St. Croix and other remote Islands. Harry is busy working with a number of different customers updating documents and we are looking forward to some new training projects in the New Year. We have the best team of technical (very knowledgeable) writers who can turn your nothing, your “we don’t have time to do this ourselves” or “we don’t have the resources to hold anyone’s hand” into good quality material and a sound best practice training system.
I will be going to Trinidad in the New Year and sharing our new Task Analysis methodology with our customer to help them develop good Level 1 & 2 High Performance HMI graphics. We are excited about how well this methodology is working and getting the right results, especially for Level 1 graphics which we see many people struggling with.
We recently were invited into a customer’s site in Louisiana to help them redo all their level 1 & 2 graphics. This customer has realized that providing the operators with the right information is a powerful tool. Putting data into context allows operators to more easily detect, diagnose and respond to abnormal operating conditions.
One of our customers recently shared with us that he picked UCDS because of the in-depth knowledge and experience each of our consultants brings to the table. We all have come from the industry. We all have operations experience and several of us have successfully run the controls group within large successful companies. My own experience came from 20 years with Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), which laid a foundation in my life that today is no longer achievable. I worked within Teesside Operations at Billingham and Wilton sites that innovated process safety and developed HazOp. I was responsible for CHazOp together with my good friend Stuart Nunns.
We had a legacy from people like Trevor Kletz, and many others who went on to do great things in the World. We pioneered Intrinsic Safety, and inherent safety. My career went from Chemical manufacturing to research as I Chaired the ASM Consortium as the Program Director for almost 10 years. It is hard to believe that this year will be my 14th year of running UCDS and growing our business to provide solutions to mitigate abnormal situations.
I remember where I came from, what I have done, some achievements on the way, such as robots (AGV’s), PLC systems, computer controls, High Performance HMI’s, Alarm Management, Control Rooms, but I look forward to what we are going to do. I find it exciting to be working with customers like Borregaard in Norway who have already turned their world upside down and are doing things that are making the industry take a big breath and realize that there are better ways to do things while making incredible savings. I have many more examples like Worsley in Australia who shot to the top of the list in Australia and made their new parent company respect them for what they have achieved.
All these companies have great people who it is a pleasure to work with and I hope we can continue to do so for many more years. Only to say Thanksgiving in the USA is all about taking stock and realizing how blessed we are and just to say thank you and take some time off to reflect on that, not to take anything for granted and to realize who is the source of our success.
I could not say this any better than Samuel Adams a signer of the Declaration of Independence:
WHEREAS it has pleased God, the Father of all Mercies, to bestow upon us innumerable unmerited favors in the course of the year past; it highly becomes us duly to recollect his goodness, and, in a public and solemn manner, to express the grateful feelings of our hearts: