Staffing Studies

UCDS offers a full line of consulting services to evaluate your current plant condition, make realistic and achievable recommendations for improvement and aid you in implementing our recommendations. An integral part of this line is a set of staffing assessments and complimentary work team design services.

In a typical oil refinery study, it is not unusual to identify field operator staffing reductions of 10% and console operator reductions of 25%. At a typical $500,000/duty station, the cost of our services can be recouped in a matter of weeks. In addition, when properly implemented, these staffing reductions can result in reduced labor expenses while seeing improvements in normal operation, abnormal situation management and emergency response.

In many facilities the staffing levels are set through evolution of the process and negotiation with the labor force. This method has obvious drawbacks, since the workforce typically is not concerned with optimizing expenses. Over time there have been many techniques to determine operator workload from time and motion studies to loop counts but each had their limitations. We believe the UCDS methodology is unique in that it can address the differences between types of operations and facilities, a fact borne out by multiple studies that have generated a comprehensive database of operator positions against which your facility can be measured.

It is also extremely important to ensure that when changes to the organization are made the safety of the facility is not compromised. As such we strongly recommend a Management of Organization Change study is undertaken. Based on recent incidents, and subsequent recommendations from investigations such as the Baker report, and legislation, such as that in Contra Costa County, this is becoming a requirement. A complimentary abnormal situation staffing assessment should also be considered.

Are you thinking about consolidating, adding or eliminating an operator position? Watch this video:

Currently we offer the following staffing services:

We are also happy to provide customized services based on any specific client requirements.

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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



User Centered Design Services promotes Behavior – Based Safety which is a process that helps employees identify and choose safe behavior over an unsafe one. Safety in the workplace is a combination of three measurable components – the person their environment, and their behavior. To learn more Click Here

About the Control Room Operator Performance Group

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.