Understanding why we should invest in proper process control starts with understanding the costs of not having an optimised process control system.
5 important factors for designing a control centre
There are always laws and regulations that we have to follow when designing a new control centre. But what are the other human factors we need to consider?
Standards, rules, and regulations are not only requirements, and can also be used as guidelines towards a safe and sound work environment. Standards may be national, international or company standards. However, national and company standards are often based on international standards. Some laws and rules are common for all types of workplaces, while regulations may apply to specific industries.
While it is not mandatory to follow all standards, it is required to conform with rules, regulations, and laws. The usual priority is:
- Law /Rule / Regulation as defined by law makers
- National or international standards
- Company standards
In Norway there are two main authorities that are responsible for following up of companies and their compliance with rules and regulations: Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) and Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority.
Apart from the mandatory issues, we give you five additional topics important when designing a control centre, especially from a human factors point of view.
While everyone can make errors or bad decisions, every effort must be made to avoid them. Following relevant standards and regulations will ensure a solid framework and guidance for projects and operations that need to reduce the risk of human error. Applying human factors in the design phase will ensure operators’ focus and understanding of the production process, leading to increased safety and uptime.
#2 Work environment
The working environment act is applicable for all land-based activities where humans are employed, and PSAs Framework regulation complements this for all offshore based oil & gas activities. Companies are mandated to follow up their work environment through systematic activities and assessments. By adhering to these regulations, you can ensure that your work environment is sufficient and human factors are covered.
We can increase the efficiency of the work environment and reduce time-consuming tasks by providing better design. For instance, creating communication tools that work. Setting up procedures for how we deal with different things, so we know what we are supposed to do in an instance. Setting up an alarm response manual in the alarm system is a way to achieve this. Ensuring that operators have the correct workload to be able to complete tasks correctly and according to a set timeframe.
Introducing HF from the start of a new project or development can ensure that we avoid late changes to the project, which will increase the cost. Also, if we don’t follow rules and regulations, the companies might be fined by the authorities. Things like increased safety, a good work environment and well-being of operators are efforts that increase employee retention. This results in lowered hiring costs as well as training costs, as we preserve the competency of the workers in the company.
#5 Well being
It is important to consider the human factor of well-being among operators in the control room, with providing things like well-functioning and comfortable furniture and relaxation zones, to ease the work. We should also consider how the organization is set up and run, and how that affects the operator’s workload. Having too much work or too much information to process at the same time can lead to operator burnout and high turnover, which in turn is bad for the company.
Human factors methodology will help you in designing a functional control centre, not just with regards to standards, laws, and regulations, but will also provide useful tools to create an efficient work environment for the operators. Taking human factors into the design of process images and large screen systems (HMI), will facilitate the interaction between machine and operators. This in turn will lead to increased safety, well-being, lowered costs and more.