Stanton, N.A., Harrison, D.J., Taylor-Burge, K.L. and Porter, L.J.
Sorting the wheat from the chaff: a study of the detection of alarms
Cognition, Technology & Work, 2, (3), . (doi:10.1007/PL00011496).
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The research in this paper considers the evidence on the success of alarm reduction strategies reported in the open literature. Despite strong beliefs to the contrary, the empirical evidence suggest that alarm reduction strategies have not been as successful as initially expected. This seems to be due to the fact that alarm reduction strategies actually deprive process control operators of information. In order to determine the ability of people to sift through alarm information, a study of alarm detection with three ratios of target to non-target alarms was devised (i.e. 2%, 6% and 10%) and the information was presented at three rates (i.e. 1 second, 4 seconds and 8 seconds). The results show that the ratio of target alarms has no effect on detection performance, but the temporal rate does. Given that process operators are rarely required to acknowledge alarm information in real time, it is suggested that more emphasis should be placed on initial definition of alarms and better presentation methods, rather than attempts to block the flow of alarms that have already been triggered.
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