Conceptual Design of Industrial Process Displays

C.R. Pedersen, Morten Lind

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Today, process displays used in industry are often designed on the basis of piping and instrumentation diagrams without any method of ensuring that the needs of the operators are fulfilled. Therefore, a method for a systematic approach to the design of process displays is needed. This paper discusses aspects of process display design taking into account both the designer's and the operator's points of view. Three aspects are emphasized: the operator tasks, the display content and the display form. The distinction between these three aspects is the basis for proposing an outline for a display design method that matches the industrial practice of modular plant design and satisfies the needs of reusability of display design solutions. The main considerations in display design in the industry are to specify the operator's activities in detail, to extract the information the operators need from the plant design specification and documentation, and finally to present this information. The form of the display is selected from existing standardized display elements such as trend curves, mimic diagrams, ecological interfaces, etc. Further knowledge is required to invent new display elements. That is, knowledge about basic visual means of presenting information and how humans perceive and interpret these means and combinations. This knowledge is required in the systematic selection of graphical items for a given display content. The industrial part of the method is first illustrated in the paper by a simple example from a plant with batch processes. Later the method is applied to develop a supervisory display for a condenser system in a nuclear power plant. The differences between the continuous plant domain of power production and the batch processes from the example are analysed and broad categories of display types are proposed. The problems involved in specification and invention of a supervisory display are analysed and conclusions from these problems are made. It is concluded that the design method proposed provides a framework for the progress of the display design and is useful in pin-pointing the actual problems. The method was useful in reducing the number of existing displays that could fulfil the requirements of the supervision task. The method provided at the same time a framework for dealing with the problems involved in inventing new displays based on structured analysis. However the problems in a systematic approach to display invention still need consideration.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)1531-1548
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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