Human-Centered Design Transforms User Interfaces for DeltaV

Sept. 29, 2009
Emerson Process Management's Human-Centered Design Initiative Yields Device Dashboard Redesigns

At Tuesday's "Conquering Complexity" press conference at this week's 2009 Emerson Global Users Conference in Orlando, chief strategic officer Peter Zornio, along with sidekick Dale Perry, Rosemount Measurement product marketing manager, showcased a range of human-centered design changes in the DeltaV S-series release.

As part of its Human-Centered Design Initiative, Emerson Process Management redesigned its device dashboards to put status, readings and the handful of most common tasks at users' fingertips."Human-centered design," Zornio said, "can be the ingredient that enhances the effectiveness of human assets and ensures long-term plant safety."

The S-series release of DeltaV (release 11) has new color-scale graphics and a library of new pattern-recognition elements, such as trending graphs and chart elements that can be embedded in a DeltaV screen. In these elements, Zornio said, color and pattern use is enhanced for easier operator discernment. "We use color sparingly and only to emphasize issues and alarms," Zornio said.

In addition, the S-series has an embedded Wiki knowledge center that can be accessed from the operator screens. Senior operators can add institutional knowledge to the wiki, while a new recruit can use the wiki to help understand what is going on and how to respond to abnormal events.

"Interaction with devices today requires experience and training, since the tools themselves aren't very human-centered," Zornio said. "They are quite technical and detailed, but this isn't a vendor or technology issue, it's the current state of the industry. It isn't about EDDL versus FDT/DTM."

"Adding a focused discipline on customers' work and workflow speeds automation ROI and increases plant productivity." Emerson's Peter Zornio explained how the company’s Human Centered Design emphasis has begun to reshape the company's offering.Zornio went on, "Our human-centered design research helped us design new, intuitive device dashboards created specifically around users' tasks. We found that 60% of use cases were routine checks where the operator needs the ability to discern status at a glance, just like the old panel walls. So we put status at the top, device readings in the middle, and shortcuts to the three to six most-common tasks are front and center with wizards to aid infrequent or inexperienced users. We've produced more than 50 user-centric device dashboards so far," Zornio said.

Then, in a stage-turn eerily reminiscent of Jay Leno's "Stupid Pet Tricks," Zornio and Perry invited two experienced editors to use the new screens in a timed test against old versions from several vendors including Emerson. The editors replicated Emerson's human-centered design investigations, with over 82% reduction in task time using the new human-centric screens.

"First there were hardwired panel boards," Zornio said, "then centralized DCS, followed by digital plant architecture. The next inflection in automation adds focus on the work and the worker. We're focusing on the user experience. Adding a focused discipline on customers' work and workflow speeds automation ROI and increases plant productivity."