It is not too early to start planning a world-class maintenance strategy for the next generation of Australian submarines. How humans interact with the highly complex and automated on-board systems will be critical to the safety of the crew, and ability of the submarine to perform its missions reliably. Many of the design issues currently under consideration for the Future Submarine (FSM) will be affected by Human Factors, and these will in turn determine the maintainability of the new machines.
Maintenance is essentially a Human Factors problem-solving exercise. As such, cognitive factors of situation awareness, decision-making and task planning are all involved. In addition, an extensive team is responsible for the phases of maintenance from planning and scoping through to execution and finally reporting and analysis of outcomes. The team processes of communication, shared expertise and supervision often determine the efficiency and effectiveness.
The C4S research team is exploring current understanding of how these factors operate in the workplace. At the same time they are conducting surveys and interviews with the submariners themselves to identify the gaps between current maintenance performance and best practice in human/systems integration. The results will inform the RAN design and support teams well before the first FSM hits the water.