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The Human Factor

6 November 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Session Type: Paper

Track: Asset Lifecycle Management and Optimization/Strategy

Paths(s): TechnicianTechnician   ManagementManagement   ExecutiveExecutive   EngineerEngineer   Academia/R&D/ScientistAcademia/R&D/Scientist   

In this paper session, industry experts will discuss the human element related to process automation. Automation works to enable higher levels of operator performance. However, to effectively manage this technology through its life cycle, companies must develop and retain the needed expertise, which in turn requires that employees feel valued for the knowledge and experience they bring to the table.


Real-time Risk Analysis to Improve Operator Effectiveness

Lieven Dubois, UReason Read Bio

Lieven Dubois (ยบ1957) studied electronic engineering in Belgium. He complemented this studies with a professional training in IT. While working in industrial automation with process computers, he introduced real-time expert system technology for real-time alarm handling in 1990. 

In the 1990s he worked for a US based company in the field of application of expert system technology in the process industry. 

Lieven is co-founder of UReason, a Dutch company developing technology for real-time decision support. He is member of ISA since 1996 and participated in TR4 of ISA S18.2. 

He is co-author of the paper 'Advanced logic for alarm and event processing: Methods to reduce cognitive load for control room operators' submiited to the IFAC conference on HMI in Valenciennes 2010.


The role of the operator in highly automated systems has moved to a central control room on site, in a remote control room off-site or even at home in a lights-out mode. In highly automated operations, the operator is only involved to handle abnormal situations. Two aspects are of importance: time and safety. When there is no time for an operator intervention and the risks of damage to installation, environment or human beings are high, the process (unit) involved will typically automatically shut down. For vital processes, detecting incipient abnormal situations is of importance to buy more time for operator action.

The second factor is safety. By being remote to the process, the operator is not always aware of the risks of an – imminent – abnormal situation. Furthermore not only the abnormal situation contains risks, but also possible corrective actions.

Software technology can be applied to support the operator in his role. While handling an abnormal situation he needs to understand current process conditions, be aware of future consequences, evaluate the risks of the situation and actions to be taken, and investigate the root cause of the abnormal situation. He will also need to take action to mitigate the risks, prevent the effects of the abnormal situation from spreading, correct current process conditions and fix the underlying (root) cause, and finally, he must supervise the outcome of all actions taken.

This paper discusses the complexity of today’s automation, as well as the human factors involved. The paper proposes some solutions to deal with both aspects.

Human Factors that Influence Life Cycle Management

Chad Harper CAP, PMP, MAVERICK Technologies


In addition to managing the life cycle of automation technology, we must also consider the human element. Will you be able to find the necessary manpower to operate and maintain the system, and provide training?  Do you have a plan in place for personnel and training to address those concerns throughout the life cycle of your automation products?  Often it’s resources that are one of the key factors with maintaining automation assets.

This session will address those issues as it pertains to legacy equipment migrations, new installations, and technology selection.  Specifically, we’ll discuss:

  • Legacy System Support
  • New Technology Resource Plans
  • Intellectual Property
  • Human Factors Integration (HFI)

What Ya Gonna Do When I'm Gone?

Jeremy Pollard, Control Magazine Read Bio
Jeremy R. Pollard, CET graduated from Ryerson Polytechnical University (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) in Electrical Engineering/Controls. He is the President of PCSS, an automation system integrator and consulting firm. After 10 years with Rockwell Automation as a PLC specialist and technical trainer, he started PCSS to serve the Canadian market. He has consulted for various control programming and SCADA software companies, and has been published in all major automation magazines. He is responsible for many technical sessions on various automation and maintenance topics presented at major global conferences. He currently authors the 'Embedded Intelligence' column in Control Design and a software review column for Manufacturing Automation in Canada. He was the managing director for PLCopen in North America supporting ongoing developments in IEC-61131 until 2006.


"What ya gonna do when I'm gone' was a 70's tune by the Canadian Band Chilliwack didn't refer to us grey hairs leaving the industry and taking so much experience with us. It referred to a love lost.
Same thing! One that has 30+ years in the industry and possibly for the same company used to have a real connection to their place in their work life.
With the shift in money greed, many are targeted to be 'let go' to make way for temperary forign workers, or less expensive newbees. and its funny how 'they' expect us to train these people before we are turfed.
Sad but true. My daughter has been training under-qualified lab technicians so that the company doesn't have to pay for the people they let go. Wait til you hear how 'they' did that!
This is a 2 part story. It involves US and how we can protect our knowledge and be fairly compensated for it, as well as for companies who need that knowledge to survive.
While the advocation of everyone's life is ultimately up themselves, we need to take that right, embrace it, and also farm it. There are many laws abound to protect people, including wrongful dismissal. I had an executive Veep actually say to me that. "You have to train someone well to put yourself out of a job." Well that about says it all then eh! 
People buy from people, people live with people, and people work with people. Some may call 'capture and release' a form of risk management, but we aren't fish.
we are people and everyone needs to agree on at least that part.
The transfer of knowledge and experience is wide and deep. It's what we have learned while applying our trade and education. The PLC/DCS systems were initially designed as appliances - something to get something done. Now they are a business solution. More money is saved, more money made, and if we can get rid of 10 people, then we make even more money, thus the greed component rises to the top.
Isn't it true that every department manager gets paid a bonus on his performance? Measurement is money. not how well you do your job, or anyone else for that matter.
Consider this presentation a prophylactic view into your future. Protect your tings!!