Human-Machine Interface Design

Human machine interface design interaction requirements.Our human-machine interface (HMI) design services deliver operator displays and performance support applications that establish a high level of situational awareness, align with work processes, minimize operator workload and errors, enable effective abnormal situation responses and enhance task performance.

Operator Interface Design

Excellence in operator interface design practices begins with the definition of the operator information and task requirements and requires an iterative, participatory development methodology to deliver effective, performant operator applications and displays.

ASM Guidelines for effective operator display design.

Our operator interface design service identifies usability and performance issues with existing design conventions and guides development teams in the use of proven presentation, navigation and interaction techniques appropriate to your HMI requirements.

Our operator interface design service typically begins with a Human Factors in Operator Interface Design workshop with developers, management stakeholders and operators. Together an HMI philosophy is drafted to capture the strategic objectives of the HMI development effort.  Our operator interface design service emphasizes the involvement of all key stakeholders throughout the development process to ensure achievement of a high performance solution with operator acceptance.

Our team members, Peter Bullemer and Dal Vernon Reising are lead authors on the ASM Consortium Guidelines on Effective Operator Display Design. As a result, HCS can help your team understand the basic human factors principles underlying these industry best practices as well as learn about alternative approaches to putting the recommendations into practice. In addition, our team can help your site achieve compliance with the ASM Consortium Guidelines on Effective Operator Display Design as well as implement proven visualization techniques developed through ASM research activities. Our team can help customers implement effective HMI solutions on the vendor platform of their choice.


Alarm System Design

Alarm Management Lifecycle ChartOur alarm system design services support deployment of an effective plant alarm system that can enhance situational awareness, speed of response to handle process disturbances and reduce the likelihood of operator error, which leads in turn to reductions in near misses, incidents, and accidents.

Excellence in alarm management practices requires a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to configuring and maintaining the alarm system over its lifecycle.

Our alarm system design services identify opportunities and methods to reduce standing and nuisance alarms and facilitate multidisciplinary project teams in defining and implementing effective alarm management practices.  Our team members, Jamie Errington and Dal Vernon Reising are lead authors on the ASM Consortium Guidelines on Effective Alarm Management Practices. Our alarm management services enable your plant to establish and maintain an effective management system.

Alarm Sound Design

Alarm Sound Design ChartAn effective alarm sound design enables operators to be aware of important changes in plant status without adding to their level of stress or interfering with their ability to communicate with other operations team members.

HCS has conducted research with process industry clients to design an effective audible alarm annunciation based on a concept developed in the aviation industry.  This alarm design concept, referred to as the Patterson protocol, is based on the idea that effective design can communicate urgency while simultaneously communicating the console area that generated the alarm without creating a startle reaction or disrupting ongoing communications.

These innovations are embodied in the HCS Alarm Sounds for Multi-Console Control Rooms™:

  • Unique three-tone combinations to differentiate console positions
  • Consistent, unique tone durations differentiate alarm priorities
  • A fundamental frequency for each alarm sound chosen from humans’ most sensitive hearing region
  • Each alarm sound comprised of multiple harmonic frequencies, to address both potential masking from environmental noise as well as potential hearing deficiencies in the operator workforce
  • Specified sound envelopes to eliminate abruptness and the associated ‘startle effect’

Related Products

The HCS Advanced Operator Interface™ solution features a suite of user interface elements and techniques that embody effective human factors principles that have been demonstrated to improve console operator performance. Our product features HCS Situation Awareness Interface Shapes™ designed specifically for Console Span-of-Control Overview displays that present critical status information to effectively support the console operator’s at-a-glance monitoring of the ‘big picture’. Download .pdf for more information.

The HCS Alarm Sounds for Multi-Console Control Rooms™ feature a suite of console-specific alarm sounds that simultaneously differentiate between console locations as well as alarm priority. Console operators participated in usability studies during the design and testing of this product.  Download .pdf for more information.

Related Publications

Some of Our Clients

Our staff has worked in and around industrial production facilities for over thirty years. In that time, we have provided consulting services to over one hundred sites, including some of the best-known companies in the world.

  • Aughinish Alumina
  • Aux Sable Liquid Products
  • BP
  • British Sugar
  • BASF
  • Caltex
  • Celanese
  • Cenovus
  • Chevron
  • Citgo
  • CNRL
  • Coffeyville Energy Resources
  • ConocoPhillips
  • DTE Energy
  • DuPont
  • Eastman
  • Enbridge
  • ExxonMobil
  • Fina
  • Husky
  • Inter Pipeline
  • K+S Potash
  • Marathon Petroleum
  • MeadWestvaco
  • Motiva
  • Nexen
  • NOVA Chemicals
  • OPTI Canada
  • Phillips 66
  • Sasol
  • Shell
  • Sunoco
  • Tesoro
  • TransCanada
  • Valero
  • Wintershall
  • Wisconsin Public Service
  • Wynnewood
  • Worsley Alumina