We focus on Human Factors and Ergonomics

User Centered Design Services Inc. specializes in control room design. We focus on Human Factors and Ergonomics but we add our extensive experience of plant operations and Automation System to the design.

In the past, control rooms where designed by architects and builders focused on equipment storage and people were not fully considered in the design, we have many control rooms around the world without basic people facilities such as bathrooms, kitchens or training rooms. The environmental controls were set for equipment not people, and many bad habits have been adopted.

Our focus is on designing control rooms that shape people’s behavior, to avoid accidents by reducing human error which is the biggest contribution to plant outages and losses. Our designs involve engineering discipline, human factor/ergonomic design with a blend of many years of operations experience and knowledge of Operational Excellence and Operations’ Best Practices.

We provide control room studies to help you understand how many control rooms you need, where they should be located and what style of control room will facilitate your operations. We then focus on securing your building and meeting today’s rigorous demands for anti-terrorism.

We provide Ergonomic Conceptual Designs compliant with ISO 11064 Ergonomic Design of Control Centers, we provide 5 reports which form an Operations Philosophy, not just control room designs. In so doing, we address the whole building, the operations, the management systems, the people selection, training and competencies.

We provide console design services and integration of the design into High Performance HMI. To provide the details of delivering the HP HMI we start by providing workshops on Situation Awareness, Guidelines and development of High Performance HMI Philosophy, HP HMI Style Guide and Toolkit. To complement this we also provide a full range of alarm management services including a detailed alarm philosophy compliant to ISA Standards and in harmony with the HP HMI Philosophy.

We then will provide Detailed Design of the Control Suite, again to the ISO 11064 standard, providing in-depth specification of lighting, and temperature and environmental controls by specifying HVAC requirements. We provide guidance and specification on control room acoustics and good communications practices including detailed shift change. The detail design is architect ready and as part of our service we stay with the project through construction, reviewing architectural drawings and specifications. We also provide quality review of building services and at the end of the project we can provide a comprehensive Verification & Validation Service as described in the ISO 11064 specification and CRIOP Methodology.

Our services do not end there; we get involved in providing modern and best practice management systems including Fatigue Risk Management System and complementary procedures, software tools and fatigue countermeasures. We can develop training manuals and materials, Procedural Systems, and facilitate Management of Organizational Change, that complements our detailed operator/supervisor workload assessments. UCDS is the go to company for control room design, upgrades, enhancements, and operator effectiveness.

© 2013 User Centered Design Services


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.