One of the biggest headaches for control room managers is justifying additional resources for the control room. Those resources could include outside support, software tools, and/or additional staff. You know that you need better tools, more controllers, and/or support staff to reduce workload and mitigate the risk of fatigue, but how do you make a good case for additional control room staffing?
One hurdle to overcome is the how management perceives technology. Often, there is a notion that advances in technology and implementation of more automation must mean the need for fewer or less skilled workers in the control center. In actuality, the opposite is true.
Advances in technology and more automation means you need more qualified workers because of the higher level of analytical skills required.
Automation and AI is Creating the Need for More Qualified Workers
The industry is evolving because of technology, and artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a significant part of pipeline operations. This does not mean the control room needs fewer real-life, human beings at the controls. It means that the control room is likely to add analytical tasks to its workload.
Industry experts that study fatigue management know that many factors impact fatigue, including workload, work complexity, and work diversity to name a few. The impact of new technology can mean change in workflows, new skill requirements, and a team approach to pipeline operation. Ultimately, you will likely need more control room staff to interact with the AI, monitor developments, and perform tasks without negatively impacting fatigue.
These advances in technology will open the door for your pipeline operation to grow at a rapid pace. You operation should be able to:
- Achieve scale quicker
- Obtain more information from the field in a more efficient manner
- Ensure an even safer and effective operation
- Adhere to the latest government regulations
For your pipeline operating capability to continue growing at the rate of technology, you need to be able to add resources to interact with the technology.
Recruit and Train Qualified Workers
The workforce is getting younger. And, these young workers are coming out of college with an aptitude for the technology that will revolutionize the industry. The issue is that these workers do not have industry experience to match their knowledge of technology.
You need to hire top talent who can be trained on how to apply their knowledge of technology to real events that occur in the pipeline control room. This will help build the foundation of your workforce for decades to follow.
The key is not to think of control room staffing as finding people to replace, but as finding people to add. You need to bring together the experience and knowledge of older workers with the technological knowledge of younger workers to form a dynamic team.
How Do You Justify the Cost of Control Room Staffing?
Pipeline operators often view staffing as a one-for-one proposition: if one person is hired, then another person must be released. This is not a baseball lineup where there are only nine positions.
Technology is allowing pipeline operators to expand operations and create more seats in the control room to oversee activity.
When justifying additional control room staffing to higher-ups, consider stressing the opportunity cost. Technology is advancing whether operators are ready for it or not. The risk of being left behind by competitors is much greater than the cost of hiring and training additional staff members.
The benefits of hiring more staff to take advantage of technology include:
- Increasing the capabilities of your pipeline operation to compete for more business opportunities
- Outpacing competitors to grow market share
- Mitigating risk in the control room by hiring additional staff to share the responsibility
- Providing younger workers with training and experience that will pay off now and in the future
- Building a staff that is capable of utilizing advanced technology today — not years from now
How Can EnerSys Support Control Room Management?
EnerSys supports pipeline operators through our POEMS software solution. We understand the importance of systematically implementing the latest technology to reduce the total cost of ownership.
Our approach is to assess your full operation before making a recommendation of tools to implement to take advantage of technology. This allows us to recommend the best course of action to staff the control room and provide necessary tools to enhance productivity in the control room.