Each design project has several milestones requiring a formal Human Factors (HF) validation and verification (V&V) of the design. For example, in Norway such a HF contribution to the design of a control room, drillers cabin or crane cabin, is mandatory.
- Validation concerns answering the question: did we design/build the right system? It is about work tasks, i.e. whether workplaces, equipment, etc. are effective to do the job, without causing unacceptable occupational health and safety risks.
- Verification is related to the question: did we (design) build the system right? It concerns the question whether engineering has met the written design specifications.
In case ErgoS is not involved in the actual design, we can perform an independent review or V&V of the design after FEED (Front End Engineering and Design), detailed design, or commissioning.
The aim of a V&V is to determine the ability of a control center to safely and efficiently handle all modes of operations. In order to determine this, the compliancy of the design with HF standards, principles and regulations is discussed with all stakeholders during common sessions or workshops. An excellent method to do this, is the “CRIOP approach” or scenario method for Crisis Intervention and Operability analysis (see www.criop.sintef.no).
The method gives a step by step guide on how to prepare and organize V&V sessions. Next, there are checklists for a systematic review of respectively Layout, Working environment, Control & safety systems, Job organization, Procedures & work descriptions, Training & competence, and E-operations (remote operations). It is safe to say, that there will always be unexpected findings, such as items brought forward by operators, that no engineer considered earlier during the project.
The ErgoS experience with a formal V&V, applying the basics of the CRIOP method includes:
- V&V of an oil&gas production platform during detailed engineering, both control room and crane cabins.
- V&V of an oil&gas production platform during FEED; as designers we participated in this HF V&V.
- Central control room of a large LNG-terminal; the HF V&V acted as a starting point for a further ergonomic control room design.
The ErgoS experiences have been published by the Society of Petroleum Engineers in OnePetro (“Human Factors in Control Room Design & Effective Operator Participation”, Aberdeen 2016). We will send you the full paper on request.
Some typical findings resulting from a V&V workshop session.
- Based on HF guidelines, an operator desk with 7 wide screens next to each other was considered not compliant; too many screens to have a good overview from one sitting position at the desk. Result: a recommendation to investigate possibilities to reduce the number of screens by integration of several software packages on one system/screen
- A control center layout specified 3 full operator desks for 1 or sometimes 2 operator positions. On the other hand, a low workload was expected during normal process conditions, which is known to be a safety risks due to boredom, and low levels of alertness. Therefore, it was recommended to look into job load issues as well as the number of desks.
- HMI/Interaction design usually takes place after building design. In our experience it may be better to organize a separate (later) session on this topic. Typical items for this session are: the HMI of non-DCS process supervision software, graphics on a Large Screen Display wall, or a simple check on text readability.
- An example of an unexpected outcome of the scenario discussions was a specified 1 minute response time for a field operator to reach and inspect a suspected spot of a F&G alarm, before Emergency Shut Down would be initiated. This was considered almost impossible.