System Integration & Control Systems Design


Human factors engineering

September 2011 System Integration & Control Systems Design

Operator up-skilling key to prevent critical problems in the oil and gas industry.

“Operators on oil and gas platforms need to interact with the process automation systems more reliably in order to reduce the risk of human error in the event of an abnormal situation in the operation of plant automated activity,” said Honeywell solution specialist, Nick Meijer, speaking at the recent Offshore West Africa Conference and Exhibition in Ghana.

The object of ‘human factors’ engineering, as it is now termed, is to ensure that technicians operate systems at the required design limits with sufficient knowledge, training and capability to ensure that no major catastrophe takes place if plant deviations or alarms occur while the operator is on duty.

Abnormal situation management

In this vein, Honeywell and other leading players in the oil and gas industry formed the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium to develop products, services and best practices to identify and address human factors issues in the control and automation industries, especially in the advent of an abnormal situation.

“When an industrial process is disturbed and the automated control system cannot cope, the operations team must intervene to supplement the control system. The advent of technology, whilst bringing many advantages to operations and processes within the oil and gas sector, also brings a great degree of sophistication, thereby increasing the risk of human error. We try and eliminate this error by the development of further automation, when, in fact, improved operator training, certification, interaction requirements analysis and a better understanding of the task, team, process and strategies for operator specific automation is required,” explained Meijer.

“Many localised issues come to mind in the African context of the oil and gas sector. For example, language plays a big part in limiting the ability of operators to comprehend operating procedures, especially in abnormal situations. This could result in significant and costly delays while an operator grapples with terminology in a second or third language before activating the required procedures. There is also the ‘interaction requirement’, where operators should be collaborating on a need to ‘know’, ‘share’ and ‘do’ philosophy with various work processes. Therefore it makes sense that practical outcomes for alarming, start-up/shut-down procedures, systems and safety guidelines and standards become more deployable. The capturing of human factors outcomes must become more strategic in order to assist operators and technicians make the correct decisions at the right moment in a time critical situation.”

It is a fact that process and plant systems are subjected to external pressures both natural and mechanical. The design of these systems aims to eliminate as many disturbances or abnormal situations as possible, but, an event that lies outside the original design realm becomes reliant on the operator’s ability to interpret visual displays, manage alarms and control sequences in order to protect lives and equipment.

“It is when skills are lacking, or not up to date, that critical problems occur. In essence the operator is expected to establish where and why the automation stopped ‘thinking and doing’ and take over. This presents difficulties and we believe an effective proactive monitoring strategy will be of benefit to operators. Greater assessment and analysis of human factor errors can assist in the development of new systems, software and procedures. When combined with constant up-skilling of operators, this will reduce the percentage of human factors errors and have a major impact in terms of cost, downtime and even life saving and environmental damage,” concluded Meijer.

For more information contact Debbie Rae, Honeywell Southern Africa, +27 (0)11 695 8000, hsa@honeywell.com, www.honeywell.co.za



Credit(s)



Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Tailor-made intralogistics solutions harness scalable control and drive technology
January 2020, Beckhoff Automation , System Integration & Control Systems Design
RO-BER Industrieroboter of Kamen, Germany, develops automation solutions based on area and linear gantry robots for intralogistics. These solutions, including the new Twin-Gantry robot system, are characterised ...

Read more...
Festo’s digitalised product world
January 2020, Festo , System Integration & Control Systems Design
HoloLens, mobile phones, 3D printing and smart glasses – the gadgets that captured the public imagination in the blockbuster movie ‘Back to the Future’ over 30 years ago have now become a reality, all thanks to digitalisation.

Read more...
Electromechanical motion products for the machines of today
January 2020, Parker Hannifin Sales Company South , System Integration & Control Systems Design
Engineers from the older generation will remember the days when machine design had to be based around catalogued electromechanical actuators.

Read more...
Siemens contributes to Coca-Cola Beverages Africa’s digitalisation vision
January 2020 , System Integration & Control Systems Design
The Nairobi Bottler’s Embakasi Plant based in Nairobi, Kenya, a fully owned subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), received a Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) training rig from Siemens Digital ...

Read more...
PC-based control decorates plastic lids and containers
December 2019, Beckhoff Automation , System Integration & Control Systems Design
In-mold labelling (IML) is ideally suited to meet today’s customer requirements in the plastics industry, especially in the packaging segment.

Read more...
Project-based learning challenges the modern engineering student
December 2019, Test Dynamics , System Integration & Control Systems Design
Projects that inherently challenge students to use innovative design thinking often involve interacting with an unknown process or device. Students are encouraged to understand the unknown through theory, ...

Read more...
FieldEcho: the future of integrated IO-Link technology
December 2019, SICK Automation Southern Africa , System Integration & Control Systems Design
Integrated IO-Link technology that enables full data accessibility and transparency across all platforms is here with the FieldEcho from SICK Automation. IO-Link is an increasingly used manufacturer-independent ...

Read more...
AI module improves industrial production
December 2019, Rockwell Automation , System Integration & Control Systems Design
Industrial workers can now use the data from their equipment more easily to predict production issues and improve processes with their existing automation and control skill set. The new FactoryTalk Analytics ...

Read more...
Honeywell helps transform petrochemical operations
December 2019, Honeywell ACS South Africa , News
Honeywell has announced that Braskem Idesa has adopted a hands-free, wearable connected technology solution at its plant in Veracruz, Mexico. Honeywell’s Intelligent Wearables will allow Braskem Idesa ...

Read more...
DRH ensures clients remain at the forefront of bulk measurement with Bindicator range
December 2019 , System Integration & Control Systems Design
DRH Components was started in Durban in 2015 when Rob Hare and Kay Goutham retired from CHI Control (now Eaton), after four decades of service. The company has offices in Durban and Pretoria. Venture ...

Read more...