Determining the appropriate staffing level for a process unit or plant can be a formidable task; everyone involved seems to have an opinion. Several techniques are available to answer such staffing issues. Beville Engineering recently completed a staffing study using a detailed task analysis method. The study involved a processing facility that was converting to distributed control and consolidating their control rooms. A task analysis that focused on emergency procedure operator responses and steady-state operator activities was used for the study. The task analysis technique provides a way to systematically evaluate the operators' activities versus time constraints. The information from the task analysis is first put into a matrix of tasks versus time requirements. Sufficient manpower is then allocated to complete the tasks. Through the detailed task analysis technique, staffing levels were determined for both normal steady-state operation as well as upset situations. An added benefit of the analysis was the identification of trouble areas, or bottle necks, that would degrade the operators' performance during emergency and upset situations. The bottlenecks and problem areas are tasks the operators have to perform that require either excessive physical stamina or exceedingly long periods of time. Examples of common bottle neck tasks include pump starts/stops, piping line-ups and equipment switches. The bottlenecks were alleviated through automation and man power allocation.
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This year's Fall meeting for the Center for Operator Performance will be October 7-10 in Houston, TX. For more information, please contact Lisa Via. Guests are always welcome!
Our summer newsletter is now available. Click here!
Take our short survey on operator span of control. Click here (new window)
David Strobhar's book, "Human Factors in Process Plant Operation," is now available in both hardcover and Kindle e-book.
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