A control room design or an instrumentation upgrade project is usually structured in several phases. Phases may be named differently, but the content of each phase is clear: feasibility, clarification, project definition, analysis, functional design (FEED), detailed engineering, and implementation.
So what is the right moment to introduce Human Factors in a project?
Figure based on ISO 11064 – Ergonomic Design of control centres.
In practice we encounter three different approaches:
- A verification of regulatory requirements at the end of a project, shortly before drawings are released for construction. This verification is usually limited to check for minimum requirements related to health and safety risks. Costs to solve any non-compliancy are always high at this phase of project.
- A full Human Factors review to validate the control centre design. In this approach, the design is made by architects or technical engineers, based on their control room experiences and maybe with some vendor advice. There are excellent HF-methods available to perform a design validation. Provided all stakeholders are supporting the review, changes/improvements may be implemented before considerable additional costs appear. Read more at Project Validation & Verification.
- The Human Factors Professional takes the lead, and contributes at each project phases. Industrial projects are often technology driven; and operations hardly being involved. As a consequence, practical experiences with existing plants are not sufficiently taken into account, and the design of tasks and jobs is addressed too late in the project. We suggest early HF interventions:
- Up front taking into account HF leads to a validated manpower estimate. As we all know, the number of control room operators determines the number of workplaces, the amount of instrumentation, and square meters of the building. Costs are high, if you are wrong on this estimate: there are either too less or too many operators and workplaces.
- This requires less engineering time, since HF issues can be solved faster by HF-professionals than by non-professionals. For example: the detailed design of workplace measurements, or determining readability of displays.