An evaluation of task analysis techniques for industrial process control
The concept of a task is fundamental to the discipline of ergonomics. Approaches to the analysis of tasks began in the early 1900's. These approaches have evolved and developed to the present day, when there is a vast array of methods available. Some of these methods are specific to particular contexts or applications, others more general. However, whilst many of these analyses allow tasks to be examined in detail, they do not act as tools to aid the design process or the designer. The present thesis examines the use of task analysis in a process control context, and in particular the use of task analysis to specify operator information and display requirements in such systems. The first part of the thesis examines the theoretical aspect of task analysis and presents a review of the methods, issues and concepts relating to task analysis. A review of over 80 methods of task analysis was carried out to form a basis for the development of a task analysis method to specify operator information requirements in industrial process control contexts. Of the methods reviewed Hierarchical Task Analysis was selected to provide such a basis and developed to meet the criteria outlined for such a method of task analysis. The second section outlines the practical application and evolution of the developed task analysis method. Four case studies were used to examine the method in an empirical context. The case studies represent a range of plant contexts and types, both complex and more simple, batch and continuous and high risk and low risk processes. The theoretical and empirical issues are drawn together and a method developed to provide a task analysis technique to specify operator information requirements and to provide the first stages of a tool to aid the design of VDU displays for process control.