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Just Another Opinion

We are in the process of designing and building a new control room at the refinery. This will replace the building built in the 70s and the control system that has an user interface that doesn't look particularly different from the photographs of when it opened.

This is obviously a good opportunity to improve the environment for the operators and ensure that we follow the modern "best practices". The problem is I am not sure what modern best practices are and nor am I convinced who does.

Please note that I am not (currently) involved in the project in any way, just watching from the outside. My comments are based on what others (who have been involved in the meetings) have said. I may be very wrong on some things in the next paragraph.

We have had a private company come in and provide a study. This company declare themselves to be human factors experts, who have carried out research, written books and run courses on the subject. We have had a worldwide company who have built many control systems and control rooms come in and give a completely different design. We have had the regulator come in and criticise both designs. And the operators (who are the end users) have some choice words about all the designs and the processes of coming up with them.

My perception is that there seems to be a lot of opinionated engineering going on. I would love to be able to work on the project and be able to tell when someone is making a claim that cannot be backed up. I would love to know what research actually exists, what it is based on, which studies have been backed up by others and which have been disproved or discredited.

All of that requires time and (probably) access to academic journals that have a paywall in the way. So I doubt I will be able to constructively contribute any time soon. At least not without just becoming yet another option in the room.

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