I was recently listening to a program on NRP and learned that Justice Kennedy hates nothing more than nouns that are turned into adjectives or adverbs. Hopefully, he won’t be reading this blog posting. The “gamification” about to be discussed here refers to the use of gaming technology as a way to teach and engage younger operators in their tasks.
Today’s process graphics are organized in a hierarchical manner to make them efficient to navigate and locate, and means to optimize navigation and improve information visualization has been the goal of much human factors research. As the devices and control methods have improved, the process control systems now run most of the time fully automatically and require human intervention mainly in abnormal situations, e.g. when an oil pump fails on an offshore oil platform. This is referred to as an “irony of automation”: The automation introduces complexity that makes it more difficult for the human operator to intervene when that is needed the most. To manage an abnormal situation and prevent physical or financial damage, the operators need a deep understanding of the process and must know how to control it through the HMI. Operators are known to complain about the bipolar nature of their work: It is boring when nothing happens and very stressful when it does. New operators often start their on-the-job training on simulators and by working in the field. Familiarization starts by associating HMI elements shown on the screen to their real-life counterparts, such as the speed of a motor or the temperature in a tank.
Gamification may play a significant role in the process industry in future. It is important that the process industry takes advantage of effectiveness that games deliver when it comes to guidance and control. Who reads a user manual for a video game? And imagine all user manuals you have in process control plant. Games about traffic controller’s work (the Airport Madness series) and other professions are becoming popular; while psychological studies demonstrate the benefits that game-based training and incentive-based design have in demanding areas such as information security. As a generation shift from senior operators to the young gaming generation is taking place in the process industries, gamification may be a natural way to teach the next-generation of operators. Game-like front-ends to process control simulators could increase the operators’ motivation to understand the automated process on a deeper level beyond the obvious needs of a normal day
Game-like learning could also be well suited for the “boring hours” of automated process control, thus, operators would be better equipped to manage rare abnormal events. Gamification of process control could be a way to keep operators and users awake andfocused. Multi-player game-like virtual environments would, for example, encourage operators to achieve, explore and socialize in the simulated environment complete with organization-wide leader boards. This sort of gamification and simulation layer could act as a foundation for computer-supported collaborative learning in the process industry.
“Gamification” in the process industries; a good idea or just bad grammar?