The objectives of this research are 1) to determine the human’s information processing capacity and 2) to describe the relationship between the information processing capacity and human factors. This research centers on the relationship, as experimentally determined, between an operator’s mental workload and information flow during accident diagnosis tasks at nuclear power plants (NPPs). The relationship between the information flow rate and operator’s mental workload is investigated experimentally. According to this relationship, the operator’s information processing capacity can be established. Once the information processing capacity of a main control room (MCR) operator in a NPP is known, it is possible to apply it 1) to predict the operator’s performance, 2) to design diagnosis tasks, and 3) to design human-machine interface.
In advanced MCR, an operator’s mental activity is more important than his or her physical activity. The mental workload is the portion of the operator’s limited capacity that is actually required to perform a particular task. A high mental workload may cause an operator to make a mistake and consequently affect that the safe operation of NPPs. Thus, to predict an operator’s performance is very important for the nuclear safety.
The information processing capacity is the operator’s ability to manage the amount of bits per second when an operator is diagnosing tasks or accidents. We can estimate the information processing capacity using the relationship between the information flow rate and human performance. That is, if the operator’s performance decreases rapidly as the information flow rate (bit/sec) is increased, it is possible to determine the operator’s information processing capacity.
A diagnosis task is one of the most complex and mentally demanding tasks as well as a crucial part in maintaining the safe operation of NPPs. Diagnosis tasks refer to the overall tasks of finding the root of cause of the faults or accidents. I...