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Control, ABB Collaborate on Operator Effectiveness Research

March 5, 2012
25% of respondents say board operator responsibilities are increasing in the plants where they work

Process control operators are being assigned more tasks, but luckily they're getting more help to do them. That's just a couple of the early findings of a joint "Operator Effectiveness" research study by Control and ABB, which polled across Control's global process industry readership.

In general, more than 25% of respondents say board operator responsibilities are increasing in the plants where they work, while almost half say operator responsibilities are increasing somewhat.

To educate these operators, more than 72% of the readers surveyed report that their organizations use "on the board" training with experienced operators as their primary training tool, while more than 40% each use classroom and self-directed online training as secondary methods. Meanwhile, more than 18% use full-process and operation-station simulation as their primary training tool, and almost 25% use simulation as their secondary tool.

To design user interface screens for tasks like graphics, navigation and alarm management, 40% of the respondents report using recommendations from the International Society of Automation (www.isa.org), while about 15% each use guidance from the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium (ASMC, www.asmconcortium.net), Engineering Equipment and Materials Users Association (www.EEMUA.co.uk), and the U.K.-based Health and Safety Executive (www.hse.gov.uk).

As for ergonomic features in their control rooms, 75% of the respondents use adjustable seats and consoles; 70% have optimized screen navigation and interaction, such as configurable short-cut keys and one keyboard for multi-screen displays; 43% use adjustable lighting; 33% have micro-ventilation and/or ambient temperature control; and 12% use directional sound.

Finally, 40% report that they've extensively automated traditionally manual procedures, such as start-up and shutdown of continuous process operations, while 35.5% say it's under consideration, and 19.4% haven't done it at all.  
This is just a sampling of the findings of Control and ABB's "Operator Effectiveness" study. Full results will be presented in a supplement in Control's May 2012 issue.