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UCDS news June 2014 – High Performance HMI, Graphics and Upcoming.

UCDS has been extremely busy on a full range of projects covering all of our standard offerings.  We are delighted that customers have been enthusiastic about our solution for overview displays.  We decided to get into this market space having seen so many failures at customer sites and talking to disappointed operators.

We have had great feedback from customers who like and appreciate our process of getting the requirements for what should be on an overview display.  Last week, after completing three unit overviews, one of the operators invited us to go fishing with him early one morning.  We had a great time fishing and a time of team building that could be substituted by some expensive workshop by some psychologist.  We had honest one on one dialogue and an appreciation for each other’s skill sets.

We have been doing a lot of High Performance HMI work for a full range of customers, including refining, petrochemical, pipeline and power plants.  We are demonstrating to customers that the transition to a new style does not have to be worthless and that what we develop is valuable and is a great tool for the operators.  We have seen some very poor implementations of ASM graphics, which even though they are called that they are what I would consider the opposite of what is intended and operators hate them.

I coined the phrase High Performance graphics out of a strong belief that the HP HMI should impact the operator’s performance and improve their ability to detect, diagnose and respond to abnormal situations.  If the graphics do not achieve that goal, they are worthless and this is often what we are hearing from operators.

I told you all a few months back that UCDS is stepping back into the heart of alarm management and offering rationalization services.  Again, this comes out of a frustration of seeing clients spend large sums of money and not achieving any improvement in their alarm systems.  UCDS is taking customers back to basics.  I find that many do not have the insight in what and why some things are in the EEMUA 191 guidelines and why compliance with ISA SP18 is so difficult.  We are helping our customers achieve the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) suggested in EEMUA.

We have done a large number of workload analysis’ for customers who again have spent money with other consultants only to find what was delivered was not useful.  You cannot do time and motion type studies for console operators.  The job is complex in that most operating units run smoothly most of the time, once they are up and running.  However, startups, shutdowns and disturbances really challenge operators and the result is they get overwhelmed.  Workload may be high but many of these studies do not identify what can be done to improve the situation.  Our tools focus on this issue and provide solid solutions for our customers.

I guess you cannot substitute over 40 years’ experience in industry with a college degree and a kid who has never stepped foot in a plant or worked for operations.  All of our staff is experienced in industry with years of operations experience understanding all the management systems.

UCDS also continues to do a lot of control room work for our clients from refurbished small control rooms to large operations centers.  We have experience of doing hundreds of control rooms and together with our operations experience we bring an insight which console manufacturers and architects do not have.  We laugh when we see some of the console designs which may look on the surface nice but when a critical eye reviews it shows major ergonomic issues with viewing angles, no place for communications equipment, a single seat, and no thought about additional operators during training, or collaboration between two operators.  With so many unasked questions, customers need help understanding what to ask, because the vendors will provide a nice looking solution that is unpractical and worthless to operations.

I was very disappointed to see the newly released EEMUA 191 guidelines from an organization dedicated to improving practices showing a very poorly designed control room on the cover.  We have many good examples and they should have just asked for a better photo if they wanted a control room picture on the cover.  I also noticed that in this addition they have dropped the ASM logo which was an agreement made with them when I was the ASM Program Director.  The agreement was they would display that logo in recognition that the majority of the contents came from the ASM Consortium and that it was out of the ASM budget that we funded the publication as they did not have the resources to do it.  I hope as I re-read it (and if you know me, you know that I know previous version very well) that I see improvements.  I will comment after I have had a chance to read it.

I was recently invited to meet with my good friend Windsor Coles OBE who was one of the HSE Inspectors for the Texaco Pembroke investigation.   I first met Windsor to discuss Honeywell’s advice on alarm management to their customers, together with his boss Roy and a couple of other inspectors.  We reviewed the issues of alarm management and all that we had done to improve this problem.  We have been friends for a longtime now and we still get to talking about how well the industry is progressing at resolving this issue.  I had to admit my frustration that many companies are in the same position that Pembroke was and that the recommendations from their investigation has lost its emphasis and people are continuing with poor and bad practices.  All their comments about overviews and human factors have been ignored by major organizations.

We met on a happy note in that the Welsh Livery Guild Company received a Royal Charter to the Guild by Her Majesty.  It was the honor of Windsor to be the Worshipful Master in charge.  Windsor did a magnificent job of receiving the Royal Charter and making this a really special occasion for Wales.  I will do a separate newsletter dedicated to this event as I am awaiting photographs from the event and I will share them in my next newsletter.  But I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Windsor and the Court for their generosity, hospitality and friendship.  It was a great honor and privilege to be invited.

In the picture is:  Windsor (center) with HM Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan, Dr. Peter Beck (left) and Commodore Brooks RN and President of the Institute of Engineering Technology.  Notice a copy of the Royal Charter behind Windsor.

UCDS is honored to have close friends all over the world.   I raise my cup to them and just say that we are apart for long periods of time, but when we are together it is as if it was just yesterday we became friends.  I appreciate each of you in my life, in my work, and look forward to more great times together in the future.  Each of you is what makes this life special and what we do worthwhile.