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Keeping ship designers in the loop

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Alert Issue-32-coverAlert! Issue No.36

Keeping ship designers in the loop

The latest issue of the human element bulletin Alert! investigates what makes it easy – or difficult – to operate and manoeuvre ships and encourages designers and operators of vessels to work together.

Issue 36 looks at how individual and team performance is affected by:

  • how equipment is laid out
  • how accessible the equipment is
  • how far the equipment’s functionality meets operational requirements

This is supported by a comprehensive checklist of ergonomic criteria for control room equipment and layout and a case study of a berthing incident during a gale in which restricted visibility, inherent in the design, played a part.

Alert! points out good design, which takes into account the advice of those serving on vessels, can make the operation of ships safer and easier, reducing the risk of accidents.

Another case study illustrates how clever design of controls for offshore craft ensures Masters are not distracted as they handle their ships in close proximity to rigs. It also helps to keep those working on the afterdeck safe. Advice for those thinking about control room design, especially if they lack practical experience, is to take into account the needs of those who will handle the controls. It is all about SMART procurement – not specifying any particular type of equipment, but being certain about the user requirements and functionality.

A useful ten point approach to the elimination of human factors engineering problems, devised for the use of the US Coast Guard on its human factors course, is featured. This shows:

  • design for the user or operator
  • the need to fulfil operational expectations
  • the need for design to take account of operator feedback
  • accessibility, consistency and the elimination of ambiguity

If the problem cannot be designed out, there is advice about the steps that can be taken. This issue of Alert! contains plenty of material for operators and designers alike.

The Alert! Project – launched in October 2003 – is a campaign to improve the awareness of the human element in the maritime industry. This is a Nautical Institute project, sponsored by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

Further information about the human element awareness initiative, and electronic copies of Alert! can be found at www.he-alert.org.

David Squire, FNI FCMI, The Editor,  Alert!,  The Nautical Institute, 202 Lambeth Road, London SE1 7LQ, United Kingdom editor@he-alert.org

The Nautical Institute is the international representative body for maritime professionals and others with an interest in nautical matters. It provides a wide range of services to enhance the professional standing and knowledge of members who are drawn from all sectors of the maritime world.

Founded in 1972, it is a thriving international professional body, with over 40 branches worldwide and some 7, 000 members in more than 110 countries.

Lloyd’s Register Foundation helps to protect life and property by supporting engineering-related education, public engagement and the application of research.


Lloyd’s Register Foundation (Reg. No. 1145988) is a Charity registered in England and Wales, and owner of the Lloyd’s Register Group. Registered Office: 71 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 4BS, United Kingdom.

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