The control room operator: The forgotten element in mineral process control

Li, X., Mckee, D.J., Horberry, T. and Powell, M.S. (2011) The control room operator: The forgotten element in mineral process control. Minerals Engineering, 24 8: 894-902. doi:10.1016/j.mineng.2011.04.001

Author Li, X.
Mckee, D.J.
Horberry, T.
Powell, M.S.
Title The control room operator: The forgotten element in mineral process control
Journal name Minerals Engineering   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0892-6875
Publication date 2011-07-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.mineng.2011.04.001
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 24
Issue 8
Start page 894
End page 902
Total pages 9
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Language eng
Subject 2207 Control and Systems Engineering
1600 Chemistry
1909 Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
2210 Mechanical Engineering
Abstract The value of process control has become widely recognized in the mineral processing industry. In the last 40 years, the industry has strived to maximize the capacities of such process control systems. Despite this sustained effort, advancement has not always resulted in the plant performance expected. The poor performance of human operators in the control room is now being seen as one of the key reasons why such process control systems fail to deliver their full potential. Focusing on this largely forgotten element in mineral processing, this paper presents a field study from a human factors perspective to investigate the current status of control room operators and to explore the underlying "barriers" in their work environment. This study involved operators working at two different types of Australian mineral processing plants. Multiple data collection methods including control room observations, interviews, surveys and reviews of documentation were used. The findings revealed several serious shortcomings in the integration of people and technology in the current control room environment. Operator control of the systems was typically passive, alarms were mistrusted or ignored, and much technology was distrusted, rejected or not fully understood. The main reasons for this were that the current information representation in the control room did not support the needs of human supervisory control and that various organizational issues such as insufficient operator training, poor shift handover and inappropriate task allocations significantly worsened the situation. Overall it is stressed that enhancing operator capacity is a promising new area for the mineral processing industry. Developing effective Human machine interfaces (HMI) and alarms, improving operator training, and optimising organisational factors are all recommended as key items to help achieve a better integration of operators and technologies. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keyword Alarm
Human factors
Human machine interface(HMI)
Human supervisory control
Human technology integration
Mineral process control
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre Publications
Official 2012 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 11 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 21 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 05 May 2011, 21:14:06 EST by Karen Holtham on behalf of Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre