One of the analytic techniques utilized by Beville Engineering is the Subjective Workload Assessment Technique, or SWAT. With this technique the amount of mental workload imposed on an operator by various unit upsets can be measured. In the course of Beville's control room analyses it was discovered that there was a difference in the amount of mental workload imposed upon operators in consolidated versus non-consolidated control rooms.
Ten off-normal situations were evaluated at two hydrocrackers of similar size, with the major difference being that one was part of a consolidated control center. Those events that were specific to a hydrocracker (e.g., compressor trip) had equivalent workload levels at both refineries. Those events that required inter-unit coordination (e.g., low fuel gas, low hydrogen) imposed significantly less mental workload on those operators in the consolidated control center. The conclusion - appropriate control room consolidation should lower operator mental workload requirements for multiple unit upset situations.
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