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Designing auditory alarms for an industrial control room

Sirkka, Anna and Fagerlönn, Johan and Lindberg, Stefan and Delsing, Katarina (2014) Designing auditory alarms for an industrial control room. Proceedings of the 46th Annual Nordic Ergonomics Society Conference .

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Abstract

Constantly increasing and more complex information flows in industrial control rooms raise the risk that operators will become distracted, confused and visually overloaded in demanding situations. New multimodal interfaces may offer better solutions. In this work we focus on alarm sound design. Alarms serve to alert operators to deviations from normal conditions and enable them to react appropriately. The speed and accuracy with which operators can identify alarms are crucial to effectiveness. Additionally, auditory alarms should not be too annoying or distracting. Salient auditory stimuli effectively catch and guide attention, regardless of operators’ visual focus. Research has established that auditory signals can be designed to express different levels of urgency. Sound can also convey detailed information. However auditory alarms are often implemented carelessly, using sounds that are too loud, too many and too confusing.The aim of this work was to develop a concept to enhance the auditory alarms in a control room of a paper mill. The goals were to improve operator effectiveness and acceptance. Before concept development a pretest involving 21 operators evaluated the state of the alarm sounds. The results indicated poor design and confirmed some well-known issues. The developed concept consists of new alarm sounds, spatial presentation of the sounds and alarm repetition intervals. The sounds convey urgency information and information associated with the production sections. The user-centred design process involved 24 operators and ontained iterations in which the concept was refined and feedback incorporated. An evaluation involving operators then studied the effects of the new concept. Operator acceptance was assessed using the Van der Laan acceptance scale, rating the usefulness and satisfaction of alarm sounds. There was a considerable increase in both usefulness and satisfaction scores between the pretest and posttest. These results support that the developed concept increases operator effectiveness and acceptance.

Item Type:Article
ID Code:5788
Deposited By:Anna Sirkka
Deposited On:08 Jan 2015 16:13
Last Modified:08 Jan 2015 16:13

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