Military Training Technique Improves Operator Performance

Aug. 19, 2015
The Shadowbox Training approach, developed in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, produces a 26% improvement in operator performance.

In a project funded by the Center for Operator Performance (COP), Joseph Borders and Dr. Gary Klein test the Shadowbox Training technique, developed in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA), on a high fidelity ethylene plant simulator. The technique has trainees prioritize actions, objectives or information requirements at key decision points. Their responses are compared to those of experts recorded earlier. A counter-balanced experimental design reportedly showed that exposure to the Shadowbox approach resulted in the operators completing the scenarios in less time and produced a 26% improvement in identification of the root cause of the problem.

The next phase of the study will develop and administer the Shadowbox technique on one unit and then administer the test to operators on a similar unit. The goal is to understand the relative benefits for scenarios that are unit specific versus generic. The results will be available at the November 17-18 COP Member Meeting in Houston, Texas. Organizations with an interest in the research are invited to attend.

The Center for Operator Performance is a collaboration of operating companies and DCS suppliers that conducts research focused on ways to improve operator performance. The operating companies include Chevron, Koch Industries (Flint Hills Resources, Invista Chemical, Georgia Pacific), Suncor Energy (PetroCanada) and Nova Chemicals. DCS suppliers include Emerson and Yokogawa. The Center is based at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

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