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Computer Based Procedures

​​​Computer Based Procedures​​​​

​​​​The introduction of advanced technology in existing nuclear power plants ​may help to manage the effects of aging systems, structures, and components. Advantages are being sought by developing and deploying technologies that will increase safety and efficiency. One significant opportunity for existing plants to increase efficiency is to phase out the paper-based procedures (PBPs) currently used at most nuclear power plants and replace them, where feasible, with comput​​er-based procedures (CBPs).

Although CBPs have been investigated as a way to enhance operator performance on procedural tasks in the nuclear industry for almost 30 years, they currently are not widely deployed at United States utilities. Much of the previous research has focused on CBPs in the main control room for new plants with highly integrated systems. Adopting CBPs for older plant with less integrated systems poses many challenges that are not present in new plants. Additionally, CBPs for the main control room may be more challenging to implement than CBPs for field workers. Thus, the current research focuses on CBPs for field workers.

Computer-based procedures provide relevant task information at the worker’s fingertips 

  • Real or near time plant status updates 

  • P&IDs, trends, and photos 

  • Just in time training 

  • Operating Experience 

The focus is on the task, not human performance tools 

  • Automatic placekeeping and N/A-ing of steps 

  • Digital correct component verification (e.g., using barcodes or optical character recognition)

  • Seamless transition between and within procedures 

Situation-based presentation of instructions 

  • Real time update of instructions and automatic transfer to next relevant step based on input, decisions, and previous logs 

Research activities 

  • CBP research started in 2012 and focused mainly on field workers and their procedures. Control room procedures were incorporated in the system in 2015. 

  • Evaluations in nuclear utilities’ training facilities now focus on usability and design of CBP system in controlled settings and performance is compared with paper procedures. 

  • Evaluations in the field – CBP system is used in actual day-to-day activities at nuclear power plants. Researchers look for usability, feasibility, and areas for improvement feedback.​​

This is an example of a prototype computer-based system developed at INL to research the use of field operations procedures on aThis is an example of a prototype computer-based system developed at INL to research the use of field operations procedures on a handheld device.

men working at a large machine

Johanna Oxstrand
Human Factors