Just as network management, manufacturing and security needs change with time, so do the control rooms that oversee these activities. Control rooms today need to be dynamic and designed with aesthetics, ergonomics, and performance in mind. Control room desks can be optimized to suit the needs of users and improve productivity.
Issues Affecting Operations and Furniture Design in Control and Command Centers
There are a variety of issues that challenge modern operations. They include:
- Operators inability to have an adequate overview of all work
- The environment not designed for the total number of operators
- The Human Machine Interface (HMI) not optimized
- Display screens not designed according to the room and the operator’s needs
- Poor integration of close circuit television (CCTV) and telecom equipment
- Lack of attention to ergonomics and operator comfort and convenience
Considerations for Furniture Design
Today, most control and command centers are custom designed. The reason for this is that different factors are in play that affect design and style of the control room. Furniture and console manufacturers take a variety of factors into consideration:
- Size and shape of the room
- Number of people occupying the space at the same time
- Adequate task lighting and ambient brightness
- Operator comfort and convenience
- Number of computer monitors that an operator can adequately manage
- Type and physical characteristics of technology used
- Type of monitoring and recording (general or enhanced AV)
- Time and manner in which the operator will use the equipment
Improving Productivity with the Appropriate Furniture
Over the years there have been a variety of solutions employed to enhance the productivity of control room desk operators. When designing the appropriate furniture for the job, the following should be considered:
- Suitable Work Environment: Designers should create an environment with each operator’s function and responsibility in mind. Operators generally oversee all work taking place in the control room. Operators must be close to the monitoring screens, near the computers to input data, and within arm’s reach of communication devices in case of emergencies. The control room desks should be designed so that they can be easily and quickly adjusted as needed.
- Increased HMI: The primary goal of control room desk design is ergonomics that ensure efficient operator interaction with staff and equipment without constraints or pressure (HMI). Control room desks should be adjusted to adequate height. The size of the display text and images should be maximized to be easily viewed. Proper lighting should be available allowing for reading and writing. All equipment should be in easy reach and equipment and materials should be stored in a convenient manner.
- Seamless Navigation Systems: Whether using one large display screen, or a connected network of display systems, a solid navigation system should be employed allowing the operators to move seamlessly between multiple monitors and software.
- Display Walls: Large display screens or video walls should be employed wherever possible to increase the amount of important information gained for monitoring and collaboration for training and problem-solving. Number of staff, viewing distances and angles should be considered when selecting the appropriate display technology.
- CCTV and Telecom Equipment: CCTV and telecom equipment integration offers another level of information sharing and convenience. Operators should have control over cameras and recording devices and the ability to respond to problems as they occur.
Thoughtful control room furniture design meets the needs of operators and turns control rooms into sophisticated and productive environments critical to the success of the organizations that they support.