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Pipeline Control Room Staff Planning

How to Determine if You Have Adequate Control Room Staff

Pipeline control room managers know their control room and know their personnel. To reach the next level of insight, though, control room managers need access to quality workload data.

One of the most effective uses of workload data is determining whether you have adequate staff in the control room to support safe, effective, and efficient pipeline operations.

Workload data allows control room managers to advance from a rough idea about the activity in the control room to deeper insight into what is actually happening and therefore needs to be done to support controller activity.

3 Ways Data Can Help Optimize Control Room Staffing

Data is incredibly useful for control room managers to understand and manage workload in the control room. It helps answer these three questions:

  • Is the staff being used in the optimal way?
  • Can you identify the way the work is happening?
  • Do you need to make adjustments to controller workload?

1. How is the Staff Being Utilized?

Reliable data supports the critical control room function of scheduling controllers in consideration of Hours of Service (HOS) limits.

You should have access to data that tracks hours of service for each controller, shift times by console, time allotted for shift handover from one controller to the next, travel time for each controller, and time spent off console for training, development, and meetings.

Having access to workload data allows the operator to determine whether there are “hot spots” where workload surges, whether certain controllers are overworked, the amount of time spent at each console in a specified period of time (day, week, month, etc.), and the overall workload by console, hour of the day, day of the week, controller, area of operation.

This is an important first step using the data to gauge whether shifts are evenly balanced and workload is spread out among controller and console.

2. Does the Data Indicate How the Work Is Being Performed?

If the first point of emphasis is using workload data to quantify performance, this second point of emphasis is using the data to analyze the quality of performance in the control room.

Using data, control room managers can perform Workload Analysis to make key determinants about controller performance:

  • Are controllers effectively and safely responding to alarms presented to them?
  • Are controllers following policies and procedures when executing operating tasks and responding to alarms?
  • Is there a particular shift or console that is routinely above expectations or below expectations?
  • Do controllers have adequate vigilance time throughout their shift?
  • How much time is required to respond to alarms in each operating condition? By shift? By controller? By console?

This critical analysis will allow you to look deeper into control room workload to attach numbers to performance. This will provide you with the necessary insight into whether you have adequate control room staff.

3. Does the Data Point to Needed Adjustments?

Once you quantify workload and assess the quality of the work being performed, you can make more accurate decisions about whether adjustments need to be made to controller workload.

Data will allow you to forecast whether adding x number of controllers, x number of consoles, or x number of new shifts will help balance the workload and close performance gaps in the control room.

Then, you can use the workload data to present an internal case for additions to the control room and in what timeframe to ensure safe and efficient pipeline operations.

This entire process advances your thinking from a hunch or an educated guess to using data that can confirm or illuminate what’s actually happening in the control room.

Where Are You With Workload Data Usage?

We understand that control room managers are at different points in the journey using data to support control room activity.

For some pipeline operations, data is inconsistent, housed in multiple databases, and/or subject to error from manual entries. For other operations, you have access to too much data and you can’t make sense of the data presented to you.

EnerSys simplifies the process of accessing the right data in a consistent, usable, and reliable format. Our POEMS CRM Suite software includes a single data repository. Then, each module pulls the data to present information you need to support decision-making.

In the case of managing controller workload and determining whether you have adequate control room staff, our FatigueMgr module specifically supports Hours of Service scheduling and Workload Analysis.

Control room managers can view data by specific controllers, shifts, and consoles to make real-time decisions about the quantity and quality of work being performed, ultimately supporting safe and efficient pipeline operations.

Contact EnerSys today to discuss the current status of your data, and see how we can help improve the reliability of the data through the POEMS CRM Suite software suite.

To schedule a discussion with our team, contact us directly on our website, via email at sales@enersyscorp.com, or by phone at 281-598-7100.

Russel Treat

Russel Treat is an industry leader, software entrepreneur, podcaster, and trusted subject matter expert specializing in oil and gas pipeline operations, custody transfer measurement, leak detection, and automation. Russel’s extensive knowledge of pipeline and control room operations gained over 30 years of projects led to the creation of a complete software suite known as POEMS ™ (Pipeline Operations Excellence Management System) delivered through EnerSys Corporation.

As CEO of EnerSys, Russel is committed to delivering the highest value to pipeline operators by addressing their greatest needs and concerns, especially operational efficiency, safety and government regulation.