Usability can be defined as a measure of the ease with which a system can be learned or used, its safety, effectiveness and efficiency, and the attitudes of its users towards it. While usability has gained popularity in IT and has seen some applications in product development, where it brings strong advantages, industry by far does not exploit the full potential of usability. In the process industries and in chemical engineering specifically, Usability Engineering is a newly developing field with interesting prospects. In this review article, trends in Usability Engineering applied to production plants in the chemical, pharmaceutical, metal and cement industry are explored. This paper starts with an introduction to usability and Usability Engineering in general. Then, concepts of modern plant operation and control are presented. It is shown with several examples how Usability Engineering can increase safety, ergonomics and economics.
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