Just as the safety and protection needs of businesses and government change with time, so do the control rooms that oversee those responsibilities. Today’s control rooms must be dynamic, flexible and designed with aesthetics, ergonomics, and performance in mind. Control room desks can be optimized to suit the needs of operators and help them improve productivity.
Challenges Facing Control Room Designers
There are a variety of issues that go to control room space planning and console furniture design. To name a few:
- Operators don’t have an overview of all tasks to be performed
- Control room environment is not adequately designed for the number of staff
- Human Machine Interface (HMI) is not optimized
- Large display screens are not placed according to operator needs
- Desktop equipment has no adjustability and is not easy to reach
- Poor integration of Close Circuit Television (CCTV) and telecom equipment
- General lack of attention to ergonomics and operator comfort
Considerations Important to Control Room Furniture Design
Today, most control rooms are custom designed. The reason is simply that each control room has its own characteristics and requirements. Control and command center console designer-manufacturers take a number of factors into consideration when developing furniture designs.
- Size and shape of the space
- Number of people working in the space at the same time
- Ambient and task lighting
- Operator comfort both sitting and standing for long periods of time
- Number of computer monitors assigned to each operator
- Other types of desktop equipment and storage requirements
- Time and manner in which the operator will use the equipment
How to Improve Productivity with Control Room Furniture Design
There are a variety of control room furniture solutions that improve operator productivity.
- Create a Suitable Work Environment: Control and command center designers should create an environment with each operator’s function and responsibilities in mind. Operators generally oversee the work taking place in the control room. They need to be close to the desktop monitoring screens and within arm’s reach of phones and other communication devices in case of emergencies. Attention should be paid to lighting, heat and air conditioning.
- Personalize Ergonomics: Primary goals of ergonomic furniture design are operator interaction with co-workers and equipment operation without constraints. Control and command center desks should be adequate size and designed for easy adjustability for sit to stand. The size of the computer screens should be large enough to adequately see text and icons. Desktop computer monitors should also be attached to adjustable arms so that operators can position them to meet their individual needs. Both the room and desktops should be adequately lit with adjustable and dimmable task lighting.
- Employ Seamless Navigation Software Systems: Whether an operator is using individual or networked computers, an adequate navigation system should be in place that allows operators to move seamlessly between desktop monitors.
- Maximize Use of Large Screen Displays: Large screen displays should be integrated when overviews of system processes are monitored. Large displays encourage collaboration for training, monitoring and emergency management. They are best used in a matrix formation for highest resolution and the ability to size and place multiple images individually, or in predetermined layouts with hot key control. Modern video walls mounted on walls, or within custom cabinetry, are preferable to individual displays because video walls have overall larger screen sizes and are expandable.
- Incorporate CCTV and Telecom Equipment: CCTV systems are valuable and should be easily accessible as are telephones on the desktop, or on adjustable arms. The operator should also be able to control cameras through software manipulation.
A combination of ergonomics, comfort and appropriate furniture design make the operator’s long day shorter. Take the time to balance operator needs with operational requirements and budget. The more invested in console furniture design, the better the return in staff satisfaction, performance and reduced turn-over.