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Ecological Interface Design for Petrochemical Process Control: An Empirical Assessment

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1 Author(s)
Jamieson, G.A. ; Univ. of Toronto, Toronto

Abnormal events in process plants cost the petrochemical industry billions of dollars annually. In part, these events are difficult to deal with because contemporary interfaces do not adequately inform operators about the state of the process. Laboratory simulator studies have shown that, in comparison with contemporary interfaces, ecological interfaces can lead to more effective monitoring and control behavior. However, ecological interfaces derived from work-domain analysis differ from more traditional human-centered interfaces that use a task analysis to inform the design process. A companion paper demonstrated an ecological interface that integrates both work-domain- and task-based information. A second ecological interface was created, drawing exclusively from the traditional work-domain-based analysis. Professional operators used the novel interfaces in an industrial petrochemical process simulator to monitor for, diagnose, and respond to several types of process events. Operators using the work-domain-based ecological interface completed trials more quickly and executed fewer control actions than their counterparts using the current process displays. Operators using the integrated (task- and work-domain-based) ecological interface also showed these benefits and, in addition, showed improved fault diagnoses and better performance scores. The implications and opportunities for introducing ecological interfaces into industrial control rooms are discussed.

Published in:

Systems, Man and Cybernetics, Part A: Systems and Humans, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:37 ,  Issue: 6 )