Managing Unruly Technologies in the Engine Control Room: from Problem Patching to an Architectural Thinking and Standardisation
Journal article, 2018
In recent years, the work in engine control rooms (ECRs) onboard ships is becoming increasingly demanding and complex due to growing presence of modern information technology (IT) applications introduced in a problem-patching fashion. Previous studies about ECRs discussed the design issues associated with physical and cognitive ergonomics and lack of regulatory support. This paper has re-examined a design case in an ECR on a merchant ship and discussed the potential of a service-oriented architectural approach to manage emerging unruly technologies and integrate distributed resources in the maritime human-technology system. An EU project was introduced to illustrate the value of this design approach. Confronted with the complexity issues residing in a sociotechnical system like the ECR, this conceptual paper suggests a shift of focus from patching individual problems locally to a holistic systems perspective on the maritime eco-system development, which would likely require more collaborative efforts of various maritime stakeholders in practice. Certain extent of mandatory standardization for deploying and managing information systems is considered to be critical in these collaborative endeavors.
Engine control room