Designing a good and state-of-the-art Control Centre requires specific knowledge and experience. Fortunately it is also possible for non-specialists to do a quality check on the design before the building process is started, by means of a formal validation & verification assessment. However, for the best results consultancy of a HF specialist is recommended.
ISO 11064-Part 7 distinguishes between validation and verification:
- Validation is about answering the question: did we design the right system? In other words: are the systems, workplaces, layout and equipment effective to do the job, without causing unacceptable occupational health and safety risks.
- Verification is related to the question: did we build the system right, according to the written design specifications and regulations.
The aim of a Validation & Verification process (V&V) is to determine the ability of a control centre to safely and efficiently handle all modes of operation. The general requirement is that work situations shall be designed in accordance with HF principles and best practices. This is needed to ensure optimal user interfaces, and a workplace design that will protect against physical and mental strain.
In order to determine this, the compliancy of the design with HF standards, principles and regulations is discussed with all stakeholders. It is recommended to have a Human Factors professional facilitating this review or V&V process.
Commitment of all stakeholders is the key to a productive V&V. If one party is not willing to consider any design changes, the session will not be fruitful.
In our experience, a V&V is always an eye-opener. It is safe to say that there will always be unexpected findings. Some examples:
We once reviewed a console arrangement where the desktop of a single operator workplace contained seven 24” wide screen displays in a row. This means a total display width of 4500 mm, making it impossible for the operator to have a good view on all screens at the same time. Our recommendation was to reconsider the information arrangement on the process graphics. After that, it appeared that four displays were sufficient.
For a control room three fully equipped operator desks were specified. However, manpower was estimated at 1 operator, with a maximum of 2 operators in exceptional situations. So what is the point of building three desks?
Norway has a large oil and gas exploration industry and Human Factors expertise is mandatory when designing a control centre or drillers cabin or crane cabin. Any new control centre shall be subject to a scenario analysis. CRIOP provides a practical scenario method for Crisis Intervention and Operability analysis. The method is freely available from www.criop.sintef.no. The method consists of seven checklists to be used for a systematic review of 1. Layout, 2. Working environment, 3. Control & safety systems, 4. Job organization, 5. Procedures & work descriptions, 6. Training & competence, and 7. e-operations / remote operations.