Control room ergonomic factors have a huge effect on the ability of operators to stay alert and engaged over long shifts.
By reducing the clicks needed to act on an alarm, having one single keyboard that controls all computers, monitors, communication tools needed and an interactive large screen overview to easily get a general idea of the situation at hand; the efficiency of the decision-making improves.
e.g. When working with ABB's Extended Automation System 800xA
and its Extended Operator Workplace (EOW)
, all monitors and large screens are interactive and the operator can seamlessly move from one monitor to the other with the cursor or using the keyboard. The EOW is connected to three different client computers and each computer is connected to three screens of the EOW-x3 so that the operator may work against different parts of the process or choose to zoom into and focus on one part or one alarm.
Human nature dictates that when humans become familiar with their environment they tend not to worry about the optimized configuration and tolerate the current. The impact of this has been seen over many of the past incidents. Further developing the EOW for the ‘next generation of users’ leads to the new ‘Smart Ergonomics
’ concept.This means: screen settings can slowly and un-noticeably change during the course of time to prevent eye strain and fatigue. A lot of work is being done around helping the operator move during working shifts whilst still providing the ideal viewing angles.
The new EOW, with its Smart Ergonomics, has the ability to promote more alert and motivated operators leading to safer operation and less downtime. By making these features automatic at login in the EOW we estimate that the ergonomic functions will be used 75% more by the operators compared to the traditional manual settings.
This is a big difference between the reality in many control rooms today, where often each computer is connected to one monitor with its own keyboard and mouse. Some monitors are only used for CCTV monitoring meaning that the operator only can use this monitor after something has gone wrong. If the operator has to move around and work on many different computers, monitors, keyboards and sometimes systems; this will add unnecessary time on alarm handling and will create ineffective work and might compromise safety or continuous operation.
One single avoided shutdown or incident justifies the efforts of creating a better working environment offered by ABB's Extended Operator Workplace optimally integrated in innovative control room layouts.