Integrating experiences from operations into engineering design: modelling knowledge transfer in the offshore oil industry

Carolina Souza da Conceição, Ole Broberg, Esdras Paravizo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Summative Statement: Integrating human factors and users’ experiences in design projects is a well-known challenge. This study focus on the specific challenges for transferring these experiences and how using a knowledge transfer model can help this integration on the design of high-risk productive work systems, such as offshore oil rigs.

Problem statement: Poorly designed workspaces result in adverse effects on occupational health and safety, as well as reduced efficiency and productivity. In large-scale engineering projects and, in special the offshore oil sector that has to face geographical and workwise distance between operations and engineering design teams, integrating human factors and transferring knowledge are key aspects when designing for better performance systems.

Research Objective: Based on an in-depth empirical investigation in an offshore oil company, this study aims to provide a framework for the knowledge transfer process from operations into engineering design that helps identifying and facing the challenges for such a transfer process.

Methodology: The study was carried out as a case study in an offshore oil company. We used the empirical data collected through interviews and surveys to identify the main challenges for the knowledge transfer process based on a pragmatic 4-step framework. At a later stage, we developed a set of requirements to improve the knowledge transfer from operations into design.

Results: Knowledge transfer implies the knowledge to be 1) captured on the operating units, 2) transformed into an engineering design context, 3) transferred to the appropriate project team members, and finally 4) applied throughout the design process of new installations. It is a fourstep process involving challenges going from not having specific performance indicators encouraging rig workers to focus on capturing knowledge targeted to design to not having this knowledge available to be applied at the right time in the projects, making it at times impossible to implement in terms of design specifications. Challenges also pass through dealing with the large amount of knowledge registered in the systems without standards to categorise and store this knowledge, to being difficult to access and retrieve the knowledge in the systems.

Discussion: Transferring knowledge and experiences from users brings human factors into play and modelling the knowledge transfer process provides a better idea of what is involved. The entire process requires a continuous flow in order to develop a permanent repository that is continuously updated and is used to optimise the design towards better system performance. Overall, the requirements developed based on the identified challenges point to the need to have clear procedures and standards to capture the operational knowledge, as well as an alignment of the key performance indicators related to the knowledge transfer process, since it will allow for better collaboration and communication between the two divisions. Furthermore, clear methods and resources to systematise and transform the knowledge, together with appropriate methods to make it available to the project teams are paramount.

Conclusions: Using a framework helps to identify challenges is of importance for both practitioners and researchers, since it 1) helps developing practical requirements for improving knowledge transfer and 2) supports framing the knowledge transfer process in a systematic way, allowing for comparison within different cases towards generalising the findings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication48th Annual Conference of the Association of Canadian Ergonomists & 12th International Symposium on Human Factors in Organizational Design and Management
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event12th International Symposium on Human Factors in Organizational Design and Management - Banff, Canada
Duration: 31 Jul 20173 Aug 2017


Conference12th International Symposium on Human Factors in Organizational Design and Management
Internet address

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Integrating experiences from operations into engineering design: modelling knowledge transfer in the offshore oil industry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this