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Expert Operators


All plants think they have expert operators , but exactly who they are is often a source of much debate. Can expert operators be objectively identified? This would assist in knowing from whom expertise needs to be gleaned for transfer to new operators. Two studies by Australian researchers have applied a technique that identifies (from lowest to highest skill level) novice, competent, and expert operators. One study used electrical grid operators and the other pediatric diagnosticians (Loveday, T., Wiggins , M., Harris , J., O’Hare, D., and Smith, N. “An objective Approach to Identifying Diagnostic Expertise Among Power System Controllers ” Human Factors , Vol 55, No 1, 2013 pp. 90-107; Loveday, T., Wiggins , M., Searle, B., Feta, M., Schell, D., “The Capability of Static and Dynamic Features to Distinguish Competent from Genuinely Expert Practitioners in Pediatric Diagnostics ” Human Factors, Vol 55, No 1, 2013 pp. 125-137). In both cases , the performance on their tool fell into three clusters generally matching levels of expertise. Interestingly, there was a linear relationship between experience moving from the novice to the competent level. However, no such relationship existed in moving from the competent to the expert levels.

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This year's Fall meeting for the Center for Operator Performance will be October 24-26 in Corpus Christi. 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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