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Pipeline Controller Response

Is Your Current Training Program Sufficient to Identify and Respond to AOCs?

During your review of the workload in the control room, you may encounter data that indicates a gap in controller vigilance. Perhaps a controller’s response to alarms is not aligned with policies and procedures or the response to abnormal operating conditions (AOCs) is insufficient.

There are any number of variables that could be affecting the controller’s ability to maintain situational awareness. Perhaps the workload is not evenly distributed amongst controllers in the control room. Or, perhaps, the current training program is insufficient for controllers.

Two ways to gauge the effectiveness of your training program is using the data to evaluate whether controllers can identify and respond to AOCs presented to them in the control room.

The Importance of Identifying AOCs in the Control Room

The first and most important step for a controller is identifying the abnormal operating condition. This is more difficult than responding to the AOC.

Consider a baseball analogy. A batter first must be able to identify the type of pitch (fastball, curveball, changeup, etc.) and the location of the pitch in order to effectively respond with the right decision of whether to swing or not swing at the pitch.

The identification part is the most challenging and important aspect of controller response. Here’s where there could be issues that need to be addressed in the training program:

  • Can controllers identify what each symbol represents on their HMI display?
  • Do controllers understand the information presented to them on the HMI display?
  • Can controllers take the information and match up with the correct course of action?

Essentially, are controllers are able to follow the alarm workflow — See, Understand, and Decide — before taking action?

Typical Alarm Workflow

Control room managers should take action by regularly following up with controllers on whether there constraints in their ability to follow the workflow. Or, if they are challenged with the identification aspect of AOC response, then it may be time to review and update your current training program.

The Importance of Responding to AOCs in the Control Room

Another potential gap in the control room could be the response to Abnormal Operating Conditions. Or, the “Act” portion of the typical alarm workflow.

Perhaps your controllers are proficient in identifying AOCs, but they are not following policies and procedures when responding to AOCs. There could be a rogue mentality of “this is how I always respond” without following proper steps to ensure the most accurate response to the alarm.

In this case, you may need to provide a different type of training that focuses on addressing attitudes and behaviors toward alarm response.

What are the most important steps involved in this type of training review?

  • Reinforce the control room culture of driving toward safety in alarm response.
  • Review specific gaps during the transition from identifying to responding to AOCs.
  • Reinforce the importance of following policies and procedures.
  • Reconvene on a regular basis to discuss challenges in the control room.
  • Reincorporate feedback and conversations into alarm response.
  • Assign metrics or KPIs to controller response to measure progress.

Reinforcement and follow-up is essential to drive toward changed attitudes and behaviors toward alarm response. Otherwise, human nature takes over and controllers will have the opportunity to revert to previous alarm response behavior.

Consider Software Support for AOCs Training

When you’re not sure whether your training program is sufficient to support the identification and response to Abnormal Operating Conditions, consider utilizing software to support the process.

We specifically recommend the ALMgr module within our POEMS Control Room Management (CRM) software suite.

ALMgr can be used to assess gaps in controller response, support training to improve alarm response, and create metrics or KPIs tied to controller response. The result is:

  • Enhanced ability for controllers to achieve situational awareness.
  • Improved response time to each operating condition, including AOCs.
  • Assistance for controller response to each alarm using alarm response sheets.
  • Ability to analyze the results for each controller or console to identify gaps.
  • Access to metrics that allow managers to address and close gaps.

We believe this is the ideal approach to quickly and effectively identify whether controllers have sufficient time to identify and respond to AOCs presented to them in the control room.

Then, once you update your training program and address gaps in controller response, the ALMgr module can support ongoing controller activity on a day-to-day basis.

Contact us today to inquire about the ALMgr module or the full POEMS CRM Suite. To schedule a consultation, 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.