Factor analysis between human error and machinery maintenance activities

Human errors don't only come from humans. External factors like environment and operational processes can have a big impact on human factors too.

Over 75% of maritime incidents are caused by human error. While companies are focusing their efforts on the development of future maritime systems, the safety gaps between technology requirements and human capabilities start to reveal themselves. Focusing solely on technology will fail to understand the human contribution to successful system performance. Nor will it help to identify risk controls that need to be in place to support human performance and prevent human error.

Machinery related failures are among the most frequent incidents and formed 42% of all claims between 2016 and 2020. From a financial perspective, the research found that insurance claims related to the main engine and auxiliary engines cost around $650,000 and $350,000 respectively, on average per claim.

Human Error Factors Analysis

Ship machinery systems require regular and accurate maintenance to be able to fulfil their intended function. However, according to investigations, 50% of auxiliary engine damage occurs after maintenance. This happens because maintenance activities involve a high amount of human-machine interactions. In the interaction processes, humans are easily influenced by various reasons, with the human error factor probability visualised below, as developed by Bayesian Network Model.

As shown in the graphic below, human error factors can be broken down into external factors and international factors: For external factors, there are two big categories - environmental and operational. Environmental reasons are factors like weather conditions and work temperature. Operational reasons include ship motions, noise and vibrations, workload stresses etc. These factors can influence decision making mechanisms and performance quality. Internal factors, on the other hand, are factors like training, experience, and working with fatigue which can also easily lead to human error.

Technology-induced Human Errors Analysis

Furthermore, as the technology develops over the time, “Technology-Induced Human Errors” have been attracting considerable interest in terms of marine incidents. Bielic et. al. pointed out that 31% of marine accidents are associated with technology. The main reasons of technology-induced human error are listed as:

●  Poor design
When the design of the technology is not compliant with the conditions of the working environment and user requirements, it can cause safety risks and reduce efficiency.

●  Inadequate training and poor familiarisation
Due to the rapid changes and updates in the technology of systems and equipment, crews suffer from a lack of time to have the required training and keep up with changes. Moreover, operating manuals of tools can be written without consideration of work conditions and sometimes they are not renewed, as new equipment is installed.

●  Attitude towards practices and procedures
Over-reliance on new technology, unawareness of monitoring and checking the functionality or an anomalous condition.

In order to overcome technology-induced human error, it is recommended to:
1. Apply “User-Centered Design” which means requirements and limitations of the operators and working environment should be taken into account during the design stage.

2. Improve training level of the crew and organization procedures. Sufficient time should be allowed for training before the operation and the crew should be encouraged to participate in training sessions.

Kaiko Systems' Approach

In alignment with the mission of making shipping safer, smarter & more collaborative, Kaiko Systems focuses on the human factor behind maintenance failures and provides solutions to prevent human error especially during maintenance activities.

Kaiko Systems is committed to user-centered design. Therefore, we aim to make life easier for the crew. Kaiko Systems is designed in a way which provides clear guidance and easy-to-follow procedures. Moreover, all procedures and data can be kept in one software environment which enables automatic report generation and resolves the need of Excel/Word templates.

While providing easy and fast workflows, the requirement of transparency and reliability is also considered carefully. By collection of meta-data on how jobs, tasks and inspections are being conducted, full oversight is ensured. Plausibility checks, such as distance and duration records of inspections as well as picture prompts allow verification of data.

In summary, pure technology advancement is not necessarily reducing human factor errors. Kaiko Systems combines human centered design, easy workflow, and advanced data analysis to reduce human error and bring measurable crew performance improvements.

●  Islam. R, et. al. “Human Error Probability Assessment During Maintenance Activities of Marine Systems”, 2018
●  Galieriková. A, “The Human Factor and Maritime Safety”, 2019
●  The Nordic Association of Marine Insurers – Cefor, “Annual Report”, 2020
●  The Swedish Club, “Main Engine Damage”, 2018[5] The Swedish Club, “Auxiliary Engine Damage”, 2018
●   Bielić. T, “Preventing Marine Accidents Caused by Technology-Induced Human Error”, 2017

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