There are many ways to collaborate in projects, even if the control centre, the engineering contractor, project owner, and other stakeholders are contributing from different countries. Nowadays, videoconferencing provides an easy way of communications. However, for the best results the Human Factors Professional needs to visit the control centre site, meet users, and find out about the local situation. Typically, a situation analysis requires direct communication, as well as discussions on the conceptual design of a control room and operator consoles.
ErgoS has done several ‘long distance’ design projects, based on the following schedule: the HF Engineer makes two trips of approximately one week to the site. During the first trip a situation analysis is carried out, including on-site data processing, and a closing-out meeting to get feedback from the operators. Main conclusions are then agreed upon.
At the consultant’s office, a concise report is drafted, and based on the conclusions of the analysis. Design requirements are developed accordingly. A 3D-model of the control centre is made, as well as several operator console ‘footprints’, and several layout proposals.
During the second trip, sketch design alternatives are presented on-site. Changes are made immediately (at the consultant’s office) and after one week, at the closing-out meeting, final agreement on the best design proposal are to be reached. In this approach the pressure is on, but it works, in particular when end-users are a bit hesitant about the best solutions.
Example – the shoebox model for a conceptual control centre layout design. The 3D model can be easily adapted at the consultant’s office, to be input for discussions one or two days later. It appears that direct communication, under a certain level of pressure, due to the fact that the consultant has booked his return flight, can make he decision process considerably faster.