There have been several well publicized incidents over the past few years in refinery and petrochemical facilities. Incident reports from amongst others, the Chemical Safety Board and papers from ARC and Marsh McLennan Insurance Company show that many of these incidents can be attributed to operational errors. On closer examination of possible actions during a crisis, such as mistakes due to confusion and time taken to understand the value of information being presented, it begs the question - "Are Machines Better than Humans in a Crisis". In fact, could technology provide better safety and business benefits? On November 4th 2010, Quantas Airlines flight 32, an Airbus A380, took off from Singapore to Sydney en route from London Heathrow. At the time, the A380 was the world’s largest and most technically advanced airliner.

Not long after take-off over Indonesia one of the engines exploded. The incident report said that had there not been five experienced pilots on board that day, the plane could have crashed. Thankfully they saved the aircraft which landed back in Singapore. The conclusion was that the balance of advanced technology and human thinking saved the day. In essence, in a stressful situation both humans and machines have a role to play. This presentation will discuss several plant incidents and see how technology could maybe aid the operator in a crisis and help him to focus on the problem.

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