Process Control


Dr. Teemu Reiman, Chair
Senior Research Scientist
Work and Organizational Psychology
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
P.O.Box 1000 FIN-02044 VTT, Finland
Phone: +358 20 722 6775
Mobile: +358 50 3427 268
Fax: +358 20 722 5888

Prof. Erik Hollnagel, Co-chair
Professor & Industrial Safety Chair MINES ParisTech – Centre for Research on Risks and Safety (CRC)
Rue Claude Daunesse, B.P. 207 F-06904 Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France
Visiting Professor Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Trondheim, Norway
Professor Emeritus Cognitive Systems Engineering Laboratory (CSELAB) Department of Computer and Information Science University of Linköping, Sweden
Email: /


Contact Dr. Teemu Reiman for more information or to join this Technical Committee


Process Control has been a main concern of human factors and ergonomics from the very beginning. Process control was for a long time the prerogative of highly skilled individuals, working alone or together with large and often very complex technological processes. The classical examples are power generation, chemical and petrochemical industries, continuous industrial production, transportation systems (land, sea, air), etc.

The human factors concerns have always been to ensure that the process remains under control so that safety, efficiency, availability, and sustainability targets are met. Process control is also a field where the issues of automation have loomed large, and where conflicting interests often have resulted in inappropriate and inadequate work environments and working conditions.

Many of the ‘classical’ problems in this field are still unsolved – or unresolved – today, mainly because an unbridled combination of rapid technological developments and growing societal demands has resulted in volatile working environments. In addition to that, the rapid advances in information technologies, combined with significant vertical and horizontal integration of most societal functions, has introduced the problems of process control into many new domains.

Contemporary process control is not an issue only for specialised operators, but a challenge to a majority of people – in the industrialised world, at least. The proliferation of ‘smart’ machines and automation has changed the nature of many kinds of work and activity from a “hands on” type to a “supervisory” type. We are therefore almost all forced, at one time or another, to become “accidental process control operators.” Easily available examples include car driving, healthcare, communication, disturbance and emergency management, manufacturing, distribution of goods and services, administration, infotainment, etc.

Process control has since the late 1970s been treated by many books, journal papers, and specialised conferences, both within the human factors and the engineering communities. The emphasis has, however, mainly been on the classical types of processes and the wider perspectives of contemporary process control have not consistently been recognised. Given that the nature of process control has changed as described above, there is a clear need to address the issues of contemporary process control also from the human factors and ergonomics sciences. Because of the growing global and multi-disciplinary interests, is incumbent on the international ergonomics community to integrate the many threads of interdisciplinary issues underlying this domain from models and theories to methods and applications. It is therefore proposed that the Process Control Technical Committee (PC TC) focuses on the issues derived from the contemporary view of process control and undertakes to develop and promote the field of research and application through collaborative initiatives between researchers and practitioners.


The initiatives will be implemented through the following (proposed) objectives:

  1. To survey, document and develop models, theories, and methods of relevence for contemporary process control.
  2. To integrate research and practices in design safe and effective work environments for process control.
  3. To participate and/or organize collaborative events for researchers and practitioners in academia and industry to share solutions, such as workshops, symposia, summer schools, and conferences.
  4. To publish works in the form of practical solutions for application in different domains, not least those affecting non-professional or “accidental” process control “operators.”

2009-2010 Process Control Annual Report


Action Plan

Activities Description Responsible Milestones
Literature review Collection of 20 papers TBD December 2008 July 2009
Identification of trends Characterisation of the developments covering the period 2000-2015 TBD July 2009 December 2009
Symposium/panel Organize a symposium or panel for IEA 2009 TBD February 2009 August 2009