There are currently two big issues in the pipeline industry affecting controllers and their ability to have proper vigilance in the control room:
1. The idea that Workload Analysis is “Big Brother” looking over the shoulder of the controller. This is a misconception. The real purpose of Workload Analysis is to provide support to ensure that controllers have adequate time to respond to alarms and perform critical vigilance tasks.
2. The software used by controllers does not talk to each other, causing gaps in communication. The lack of interoperability should be a concern for pipeline operators, but there is a solution to achieve effective communication.
1. How to Manage Workload to Achieve Proper Vigilance
It is important for control room managers to communicate to controllers the “why” behind the concept of workload analysis. If controllers only see this as a cumbersome method to track their work, they will be resistant to buying into the benefits.
The “why” of workload analysis boils down to these key points:
- A support piece to help controllers have adequate capacity to remain vigilant monitoring and reacting to pipeline activity.
- A method to evenly distribute the workload among controllers, consoles, and shifts.
- A tool to track on-console and off-console duty time so that controllers are capable of remaining vigilant during their shift.
Controllers may not be as concerned about fatigue as control room managers, but it is also important for controllers to understand their role in ensuring fitness for service while helping your operation remain compliant.
Specifically, controllers should take ownership of their workload by regularly providing feedback to the control room manager. This two-way communication will help managers make necessary adjustments to ensure operating vigilance and compliance with the PHMSA CRM Rule.
From the CRM Rule FAQs: “PHMSA expects operators to establish, annually evaluate, and document the substantive adequacy of controller workload criteria. Job task analysis or related evaluations are encouraged. Periodic analysis, annually and whenever significant changes are being made, will help operators recognize and react to changes.”
2. How To Achieve Interoperability in Software
Another concern for control room managers is needing software that supports each controller’s ability to remain vigilant during their shift. This is achieved through interoperability.
Interoperability in the control room can be defined as the ability of software and systems to communicate with each other and exchange information in a timely, cohesive manner to ensure that the user achieves situational awareness.
If the software tools in the control room are not integrated, then controllers will face difficulty relying on the tools available to them. This is a concern for many operators who use multiple vendors or software tools to support the various aspects of pipeline operation and control room management.
Fortunately, interoperability is achievable to support each area of control room management, including adequate information, workload monitoring (fatigue management), compliance, alarm management, and point-to-point verification.
EnerSys Software Helps Manage Workload and Achieve Interoperability
EnerSys helps control room managers support controllers and achieve interoperability through our Control Room Management (CRM) suite.
– To support workload monitoring, the CRM Suite provides real-time views of each controller’s workload so that managers can see workload as it changes every day for each controller and for each shift.
Using the available data, control room managers can make adjustments, continually ensure compliance, and gather immediate feedback from controllers.
– To support interoperability, the CRM Suite includes support tools that manage the key areas of the control room.
Specific to supporting controllers, the CRM Suite includes the ALMgr tool to help controllers remain vigilant, the CRMgr tool to ensure compliance, and the FatigueMgr tool to monitor workload and ensure controller alertness.
When all of these pieces are integrated, your controllers will remain vigilant in the control room, you will be able to monitor and manage activity in real-time, and you can pull records together to support an audit request.
To see how our CRM Suite software works, we would like to schedule a brief, no-obligation demo with your team. To get started, please complete our contact form, email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us directly at 281-598-7100.