Happy Thanksgiving

Written by mycontrolroom on November 24, 2012

Another busy month for UCDS with lots of travel!  I made Chairman (100,000 miles) on US Airways already for next year and Dave is close behind me.

I have recently spoken at a couple of big events.  I was at the Emerson User Group where I presented a paper on HMI design.  It covered why we need to consider task analysis and not rely on using just P&IDs as the basis for screen designs. I demonstrated the power of the High Performance HMI and how the use of task analysis can provide insight into what should be on a display, avoiding many of the issues found today with information scattered across multiple screens.  After presenting my paper, I joined a panel of Experts to debate the topic.  Many customers had a lot of very good questions on this topic.

I was also invited to the Yokogawa User Group to give a Keynote address.  Again, I shared how to get a ROI when implementing High Performance HMI.  Control Magazine was there and did a wonderful review of my presentation, which is available as a link in the events section of our website.  We are making these presentations available to you upon request.  If you are interested, please e-mail Steve at SMaddox@mycontrolroom.com.

My keynote address was disrupted at the end by the hotel alarms; everyone thought I had staged it as a prop as I was just talking about the topic, so everyone ignored the alarm, Ha!  Well, we got through it and everyone got the message, we evacuated the hotel and all was fine.

We continue to be involved in a good number of new control room projects.  I see many customers struggling with what to put on Large Screen Displays (LSD), and what technology to use.  So, UCDS is rolling out more information and advice on this topic.

Some of our customers have asked us to help them prepare for a CRM audit.  We did a good job identifying some gaps in the customer’s plans and predicted areas PHMSA would issue violations against.  We are going to be helping resolve some of these gaps and avoid the harsh fines being imposed.  The regulator is giving these customers just 30 days to resolve violations.  The fines are quite high at $30,000 per day and a maximum of $1MM.

I am pleased to reveal that UCDS is hiring another Senior Consultant.  Christi Taylor will be joining us in December.  Christi was one of our previous customers who has confidence in us and has jumped at the chance to join us.  She will be initially involved in staffing studies as we use our proven methodology to estimate operator workload.  She will also be leading our Management of Organizational Change Studies.

Over the next year, she will be getting up to speed with our Staffing Methodology, MOOC, Alarm Management, HP HMI initiatives and Control Room Design.  Next year, we are launching a major new initiative on control room design.  We now have the capability to provide a complete solution including architectural services, project management, documentation and operator and control engineer training.

This month we celebrate Thanksgiving and I know I have a lot to be thankful for, and want to thank God and my customers for the best year ever.

Many Americans this Thanksgiving will have some deep reflections on the tragedy going on in our wonderful world today.  The families living in fear and terror in the Middle East, we pray for peace, patience and understanding.  We pray for the distressed people living in the Northeast who are still suffering from their ordeal of the horrific storm that turned their world literally upside down.  Several of our projects have been put on hold due to these storms.

We think of many of our friends who lost everything in the downturn.  I think of my great friend John who is one of the most talent salesmen I know, who lost his job, his house and has been really going through hard times.  But one thing that cannot be damped down is his spirit and his determination to go forward.  He has pride in his Country and has an open love for God.  I know at this hard time he will be celebrating with Thanksgiving and holding onto all that is good.  He will be thinking of greater days and reflecting on what hardships the founders of this great land went through, how they endured and how they succeeded and became great.

He too demonstrates strength through hardship, I am thankful he is my friend and I know he will one day look back on this time and reflect as Thomas Chisholm the great Hymn writer wrote at the age of 75, “My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now.  Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”

I too can testify of this grace, I too have been through hard times and can testify how blessed I am, I give thanks for each of my employees (friends), for my customers (friends), and for the people we work alongside and interact with.

For all you who read this blog on a regular basis, thank you for your interest, for your consideration.  Happy Thanksgiving and may you too be blessed.  None of us know what the future will bring, but when we work together we can achieve great things.  This year we have participated in some very successful projects and I am very proud to have been part of the solution.  I am especially grateful to Harvey Ivy of Southern Company who has achieved great things and for his willingness to share this success with some of our other customers.  Harvey you are a great man and I am very pleased to have worked with you.


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UCDS has in-depth experience in designing control rooms and modifying existing field shelters. Our process is compliant with the ISO 11064 Ergonomic Design Standard for Control Buildings. We interview management, supervision and a significant group of the operators to understand functional requirements, what works well in the existing environment, and identification and correction of problems with the existing design. To learn more Click Here


Situation Awareness

Abnormal situations encompass a range of events outside the “normal” plant operating modes, e.g. trips, fires, explosions, toxic releases or just not reaching planned targets. In the past incidents such as Piper Alpha, Milford Haven, Flixborough, Texas City and the 2003 northeast electrical blackout have all been attributed, at least in part, to a fundamental lack of good situational awareness. Early work of the Abnormal Situation Management Consortium® included a survey of the US petrochemical industry. Based on their research the consortium estimates industry losses of around $20 billion per year from abnormal situations, approximately equal to the total annual profits of that industry. Furthermore these studies indicate that companies achieving Best Practices in operations can improve productivity by 5-12%. To learn more Click Here


Fatigue Alertness Management

We have many customers looking to enhance their shift handover procedures and follow some of the Recommended Practices identified in the API documents; others are focusing attention on fatigue and fatigue countermeasures. We have great solutions for both these topics. For more details please contact Steve Maddox. To learn more Click Here



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The purpose of this group is to share ideas and solutions that contribute to improving the performance of the control room operator. Abnormal situations can be managed safely and effectively if we provide our operators with the right training, workload, environment, and interfaces.