Norwegian study of ‘effective and usable’ control rooms

Institute for Energy Technology paper analyzes impact of computerization in new build and revamp.

A recent study* by the Norwegian Institute for Energy Technology (IET) has identified pros and cons associated with the introduction of modern computer-based systems into the control room. The study, of digital revamps of nuclear power plants, may well have implications for similar upgrades of brownfield oil and gas production sites.

A major driver for modernization is the move to advanced technology and computer-based systems in the control rooms. Most legacy instrument and control equipment in nuclear power plants today is analogue. Decreasing part availability and increasing maintenance costs are forcing operators to look to digital control. Digital systems are also expected to provide more cost-effective production. The major challenge of the computer-based control room is in the design of the human machine interface (HMI). The HMI is a prime factor in facilitating operator problem solving. The concern is that the introduction of a new HMI will require a ‘new style’ of operation and a modified form of interaction between team members.

The study investigates worker psychology and the need for information visibility in collaborative problem solving. Systems such as the Westinghouse Wall Panel Information System have shown the benefits of large scale collaborative environments. The IET is conducting similar tests at its own Halden Man Machine Laboratory.


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