HAMMLAB is a facility for attaining the optimal application of new technology in complex industries, such as nuclear power plants, offshore petroleum production, electrical power distribution, etc.
HAMMLAB is a flexible, adaptable, control centre whose equipment and functions can be manipulated to produce different experimental conditions.
HAMMLAB is an example of a modern control centre which can be used as a test-bed for design.
What is HAMMLAB's Purpose?
Efficient interaction between the operator and the process through the control room interface is the key to operational safety and reliability. The aim of HAMMLAB is to extend the knowledge of human performance in complex process environments, in order to adapt new technology to the needs of the human operator.
By studying operator performance in HAMMLAB, and integrating the knowledge gained into new designs, operational safety, reliability, efficiency and productivity can be improved.
What does HAMMLAB Do?
HAMMLAB serves two main purposes: the study of human behaviour in interaction with complex process systems; and the development, test and evaluation of prototype control centres and their individual systems. HAMMLAB provides these activities through its modern, computer-based, experimental control room and it's four simulators: three nuclear reactors (PWR, BWR, WER), and an offshore oil-production process.
Unlike other simulator centres, HAMMLAB is not a training instrument but is focused specifically on the application of new technology within its user environment. HAMMLAB is equipped for many types of studies including:
- design and evaluation of control-centres
- interface design and evaluation
- design and evaluation of computerised operator support systems
- studies of the effects of automation
- analysis and prediction of human error
Benefits of HAMMLAB
HAMMLAB provides new knowledge about human-system interaction which is of practical use in the process control environment.
Studies conducted in HAMMLAB enable operator performance within different systems to be compared, and provide guidance for industry based on sound experimental findings and theoretical understanding. This guidance, which can relate to general conditions or individual elements within the controlcentre, will lead to improvements in control centre operations and ultimately to improvements in the safety and efficiency of the plant.
HAMMLAB has for more than 25 years been used in a wide range of human-system interaction experiments, evaluations and user tests, including:
- evaluation of computerised procedures
- comparisons of operator performance using different display and control modes
- evaluation and comparison of user interfaces
- evaluation of the effects of automation on operator performance
- comparisons of different types of alarm presentation methods
- evaluation of diagnostic systems using Knowledge Engineering
- evaluation of alarm handling systems
- the effects of advanced interfaces on staffing requirements
Experiments have also been conducted to evaluate, verify and validate new "cutting edge" methods and measures for human performance assessment developed at Halden. These include:
- qualitative prediction of human errors
- assessment of task complexity
- scoring of crew and operator performance
- workload and situational awareness
Applications from HAMMLAB
Experimental results from HAMMLAB have a wide variety of practical applications, in areas which are of particular importance for industry. Examples are:
- systems design
- interface design
- development of standards and guidelines
- human error reduction
- human reliability assessment
- probabilistic safety assessment
- allocation of function between humans and automation
- verification and validation
The picture shows the eyetracker equipment used for measurement of the exact position and duration of each fixation of the eye. The position is measured 50 times a second
HAMMLAB uses a multi-disciplinary approach to conducting experiments. Experienced operators, trainers and process experts from the nuclear and oil-production industries, work along side experimental psychologists, human factors specialists, software and systems specialists, and laboratory technicians, to ensure the smooth running and complete integration of the simulators, technical equipment and data collection systems. The teams work together in the development of realistic experimental scenarios, experimental designs, measurement and scoring of performance, and the collection and analysis of data.
HAMMLAB's Experimental Facilities and Equipment
In addition to the simulators, HAMMLAB is equipped with extended data collection and analysis facilities. These include:
- eye-movement tracking
- multi-channel, audio-visual recording computer logging of simulator events and operator actions
- data analysis support systems
HAMMLAB's physical infrastructure includes an experimenter's gallery where the entire experiment can be run without impinging on the activity in the control centre. From the gallery a broad range of human performance aspects can be controlled and later analysed, including:
- operator performance assessment
- situation awareness
- mental workload
- operator efficiency
- operator visual activity
- operator action profiling
- operator performance prediction
- system performance
In addition to the OECD Halden Reactor Project, a number of individual organisations perform experiments or benefi t directly from knowledge gained in HAMMLAB. Examples are:
- United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), USA.
- L'Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN), France.
- OKG AB, Sweden.
- BP Amoco, Norway.
- The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), Norway.