(54y) Beyond Compliance: Implications of Abstraction-Decomposition Space in Designing Standard Operating Procedures

Son, C., Texas A&M University
Ade, N., Texas A&M University
Neville, T., Texas A&M Univeristy
Peres, S. C., Texas A&M University
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) is an integral part of everyday operations in process industries. Designed by teams of experts including process engineers and experienced operators, SOPs present a series of specific steps regarding how a task should be done. However, under constantly changing or unexpected operating conditions, it is often inevitable and necessary for workers to depart from or adapt some steps of SOPs in order to accomplish given goals. To understand how design of SOPs actually supports or hinders the worker’s adaptation in chemical processing settings, an experimental study was conducted at a high-fidelity three-phase separation (TPS) training facility. This study first analyzes the work domain of the TPS unit using a novel approach called ‘abstraction-decomposition space (ADS).’ The ADS represents functional-physical and part-whole relationship of a system under examination. Second, individual steps of four SOPs used in the TPS unit are mapped onto the ADS. Third, participants’ compliance with or adaptation of the steps is analyzed using a procedure performance assessment tool. In addition, to find out how the SOP steps mapped onto a different location of the ADS are correlated with participants’ experience, this study investigates the difference between novices’ and experienced participants’ procedure performance. The results of this study indicate that SOP steps are mapped onto different locations of the ADS and such difference is correlated with SOP performance. Moreover, the results show that there is a difference between experts and novices with respect to the adaptation to unexpected situations and limitations embedded in the SOPs. The results of this study would inform future design of SOPs in a way that supports worker’s adaptation to unanticipated conditions and helps both novices and experts cope with everyday tasks effectively and safely.