Session Type: Paper
Paths(s): Technician Management Executive Engineer Academia/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.
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.
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: