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Human Factors in Ship Design

Human Factors in Ship Design

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Published by Milad Naderi

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Published by: Milad Naderi on Oct 26, 2012
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Critical Significance of Human Factors in Ship Design
Thomas G. Dobie, M.D., Ph.D., FRAeSDirector, National Biodynamics LaboratoryUniversity of New Orleans
Proceedings of the 2003 RVOC Meeting, 8 – 10 October, 2003Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota
There is a critical need for a human factors input whenever technology and peopleinteract. When systems are functioning well, few seem to appreciate that this smoothoperation is largely due to the prior thought and effort that has gone into optimizing thehuman factors element; when disaster strikes, however, there is a sudden demand for immediate rectification. As the ship design evolves and crew sizes diminish, even greater emphasis should be placed upon the man/machine interaction in order to ensure safetyand efficiency during both routine and emergency operations. Severe ship motions limit the human ability to operate command and control and communication systems,navigate, perform routine maintenance and prepare food. In an emergency, suchoperations as refueling at sea and damage control can be severely hampered. Thehuman being is susceptible to degraded performance in a number of ways. There are the purely physical limitations on both gross and fine motor skills imposed by the adverseeffects of heavy seas. The former physical limitations include standing, walking, and carrying out operational and maintenance tasks that include major whole-bodymovements required to perform these types of operations. Fine motor skills include such fine movements as delicate control adjustments and computer operations. Knowledge othe sea/hull interaction and its potentially deleterious effect on the physical activities of crewmembers can provide valuable information for improved ship and equipment designas well as establishing guidelines for efficient heavy weather operations. In addition, ship motion can cause significant mental degradation leading to overall performancedecrement and increased potential for injury. Motion sickness is an example of this typeof malady. Seasickness is the most common cause of motion sickness and can have a profoundly adverse effect on human performance. There is also the sopite syndrome, ahuman response to provocative motion characterized by drowsiness and mood changes. It is not yet clear whether this is due to boredom, inactivity and loss of concentration othe result of the effects of provocative motion. Whatever, this soporific response can lead to inefficiency and accident proneness, that is not so readily identifiable by the sufferer or a supervisor. These motion responses are highly relevant to the RVOC research ship situation. Not only because of the plans to reduce the number of crewmembers, but alsobecause a number of the research or academic team members may have little or norecent experience at sea, particularly in heavy weather. Attention to onboard habitabilityissues and fostering a high level of morale among crewmembers are also very important  factors in support of crew retention, particularly in modern ships with smaller numbersof crewmembers. The author will address these issues and make recommendations toimprove the incorporation of the human element in future ships.
From the onset, there is a critical need for a human factors input in the design of new ships to ensure optimal interaction between technology and people in order toachieve maximal operational effectiveness. When all is well and systems are functioningcorrectly and efficiently, few appreciate the significance of the human factors componentthat has led to the smooth operation. In emergency situations, however, there is animmediate demand for action in order to rectify the problem. Although many humanfactors efforts are aimed at the very highest level of technology, one should remember that they are required at all levels in order to insure maximum efficiency. Anywhere amix of people and technology interact you will find
human factors
; a branch of engineering in which the primary emphasis is on the human input. In discussing shipdesign there are two aspects to be considered. First, there is the human-technologicalinteraction of man and machinery to which I have already alluded. Second, there is theadditional matter of operating and controlling equipment and systems on a moving platform. In other words, technology goes beyond the question of manipulatingmachinery and is concerned with structures, in this case ship structures, work and restspaces, noise, vibration, temperature, and the effects of provocative motion. All of thesefactors play a significant part in how an individual reacts with technology. As shipdesign evolves and in particular as crew sizes diminish, much greater emphasis should be placed upon the human factors input in order to maximize safety and efficiency duringroutine and emergency operations. In heavy seas, severe ship motions limit the humanability to operate command and control and communication systems, carry out necessarynavigational tasks, perform routine ship maintenance and prepare food. This raises thefundamental question of seakeeping and the seaworthiness of new designs of ships.Should emergencies arise at sea, the situation becomes even more critical when crewnumbers are reduced. All these considerations relate to commercial vessels as well as tonaval vessels; only detailed tasks and operational procedures will vary.The human operator working on a moving platform is susceptible to degraded performance in a number of ways. There are the purely physical limitations of both grossand fine motor skills involving whole-body motion imposed by heavy seas. Theseinclude standing, walking and carrying out operational and maintenance tasks thatinclude major physical movement in order to carry out these mechanical operations.These physical limitations include motion induced interruptions (MII) which occur whenlocal motions cause a person to lose balance or slip, thereby interrupting whatever task is being performed. Fine motor skills include delicate adjustment of controls, computer operations, and certain maintenance tasks involving electronic boards and components.Physical operations carried out on a moving platform also induce fatigue anddegradation of mental effort leading to an overall decrement of human performance andincreased potential for injury. Motion sickness is another example of a response to provocative motion that causes diminished performance. Seasickness is the mostcommon form of motion sickness and has a profoundly adverse effect on human performance. These various physical difficulties and human responses may be foundindividually but on many occasions, they occur together. In addition, it may be difficultto tease out the specific causes of diminished performance, particularly in heavy sea
states. For convenience, however, we shall address these specific issues separately, as far as possible, and make some recommendations on their management.
The importance of good seakeeping is discussed in NATO StandardizationAgreement (STANAG) 4154, titled Common Procedures for Seakeeping in the ShipDesign Process (12-13-2000), Section 11.2:
“The general desirability of good seakeeping performance is universallyaccepted and has been for almost as long as ships have been designed and built. In general terms, good seakeeping qualities permit a warship tooperate in adverse weather conditions with minimum degradation of mission effectiveness.”
Seaworthiness includes all the aspects of the design of the ship that affect itsability to remain at sea in all conditions and carry out its pre-planned operational mission.Brown (1985) has reviewed the importance of designing ships with a high level of seaworthiness, otherwise there would be a high cost involved due to lost operatingeffectiveness. He pointed out that in surface vessels this loss has in some cases “a direct, physical cause” while in others “it is due to a degradation in the ability of the crew tocarry out their tasks.” As an example of problems with heavy seas, Brown discussed theaverage weather conditions over the North Atlantic Ocean and pointed out that there is “ageneral correlation between wave height and wind speed (Beaufort number) in the openocean for a fully developed sea” (Table 1).
Table 1- Correlation of Wave Height and Wind Speed
Sea State Wave Height (m)Beaufort No.Wind Speed (kts)1 - 4 Up to 2.5 0 5 Up to 215 2.4 4 6 22 - 276 4 6 7 28 - 477 and over 7 and over 8 and over Over 48In terms of human factors issues, he stressed that provocative motions result intwo forms of degradation on crewmember performance. First, the task becomes moredifficult for the individual due to the effects, as we shall see later, of trying to work on amoving platform. Second, the individual performs less well because of the difficultiesinherent in his situation. These human factors issues will be dealt with in greater detaillater in this document, bearing in mind that not all systems are affected in the same wayand to the same degree by a given severity of provocative motion,.Brown provided his interpretation of the loss of operational effectiveness for a3000-tonne
Class Frigate (overall length 108m) in Table 2, and then summarizedthese losses as a percentage of overall effectiveness for various sea states in Table 3

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