Man, Technology and Organisation

The development and usability test of a state based alarm system for a nuclear power plant simulator

Nihlwing, C. , Kaarstad, M.
American Nuclear Society International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Plant Instrumentation, Control, and Human-Machine Interface Technologies, 8. NPIC&HMIT 2012, San Diego, CA, 2012-07-22--07-26
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This paper describes an advanced alarm system tool, called the State based alarm system, that was developed for the Halden Boiling Water (HAMBO) simulator in the Halden Man Machine Laboratory (HAMMLAB), and a usability test of this system. The main challenge with most alarm systems in the process industry today is that they generate too many alarms during major disturbances, and in this way expose the operators to an extensive amount of information that is difficult to interpret [1]. Alarm systems have been a focused research topic at the Halden Reactor Project (HRP) for many years [2]. The usability test reported in this paper was performed in the HAMMLAB research laboratory, within the frame of a Nordic cooperation that has sponsored research related to e.g. alarm systems and large screen displays since 2000 [3]. A total of seven different crews from different plants participated in the study. Three scenarios were used, allowing an evaluation of the State based alarm system, as well as a comparison of findings from an earlier usability test where operators only had access to the ordinary HAMBO alarm system and no advanced alarm system. Observations, interviews, usability questionnaires, audio and video recordings as well as data logs were used as data input in order to evaluate the system. The overall findings showed that secondary disturbances were detected earlier and more often with access to the State based alarm system than with only the ordinary alarm system. The usability ratings of the State based alarm system were high, and operators believed that such an alarm system could be of great help as an add-on alarm system in a nuclear power plant.