Robin Hamer from cohort 3 participated in the 2018 FRAMily tutorial and workshop in Cardiff.

This tutorial and workshop took place in Cardiff School of Engineering and is an annual occurrence in Resilience and Safety-II academics, practitioners and industry. This particular tutorial and workshop concerned a method for analysis complex socio-technical systems called FRAM – Functional Resonance Analysis Method. In the past I have tried to read and apply the information in the books concerning FRAM. However, I found that without instruction and due to the complexity of the method, it was very difficult to implement without guidance. Therefore, the first day proved to be very useful as we went back to basics and learnt about the logic behind the method and how it is used.

In addition, we were introduced to an open source computer program which would allow me to create and edit FRAM models easily. Over this day, I gained a basic understanding about how the model worked and how to create my own models.

On the second and third days, presentations were given by various academics and practitioners. These were mainly either how FRAM was applied in practise, using FRAM in case studies or mixing FRAM with other methods to quantify the outputs. I found these two days slightly overwhelming in terms of knowledge. I thought I had just had a grasp of FRAM but some of the work that was being done with the model really was complicated and it was clear that FRAM has many applications.

One presenter had even used FRAM to model the human brain, which I thought was amazing conceptually. All in all the talks were very good and the questions were stimulating, however, I still have my own reservations about the method. There was little concrete evidence of how you get from the model to spotting weaknesses in the system to then providing interventions. Although this may be obvious to experienced FRAM users, it was not made obvious over the course of the three days. I can see some use of FRAM within my PhD in a sense that it would be good to model work-as-imagined and work-as-done of the tasks I wish to improve using my tool. I feel that by using the tool I will adapt and FRAM together may provide a comprehensive understanding of the tasks and problems within the nuclear industry.

To summarise, I thought the three days were very useful and have given me new ideas for my PhD. However, I still have some reservations about FRAM: it's too complicated and time consuming. Whilst I see value in an academic exercise, I see little use in using FRAM solely for this PhD since it is industry focussed. However, I do see use in FRAM in addition to another tool/instrument. I also managed to network and briefly and informally ask some of my potential interview questions to numerous people. The results weren’t surprising but it was good to see people across various industries all saying the same thing.


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