From emergency services’ control rooms, dispatching resources and getting help to members of the community in need; to nuclear plants monitoring activity and transport hubs ensuring all services run on time and safely – the common thread is continuous operation by the operators who manage everything that comes into and goes out of that function. Control Room Monitoring Cape Town
- Human elements
- Technology and machinery
- Environmental factors
Let’s look at our top tips for designing your control room.
Monitors, displays and controls
Maximising safe, reliable, efficient and comfortable use of graphic screen displays and controls are imperative.
You should remember that the amount of information an individual can handle is limited, so screen design layout will have a considerable impact on overall operator performance and role satisfaction. The leading thinktanks recommend that displays used for close image inspection should be positioned directly in front of the operator and sized between 19-24 inches. Multiple screens can be used, but there must still be space for writing if this is required by the role.
Interestingly, studies have shown that when operators get nervous or come under high stress, it can become more difficult to click on an icon using a mouse, whereas it’s much easier to point with the finger – which makes a touch screen a perfect choice. They can also be reached at a shorter distance and from a more relaxed seating position. This would suggest touch-screen monitors are optimal for the best-practice control room design.
Room architecture, furniture and seating
The control room building itself is the shell of the system and so is vital in its own right. Experts suggest the recipe for control room architecture success includes:
- Sufficient space to comfortably accommodate all necessary equipment and allow staff to move freely
- Off-white matt or flat finished walls
- North-facing windows visible from a seated position
- Consideration for reflection to reduce eye strain
- Customisation with logos, images and designs to give identity
- Furniture that’s reconfigurable, robust and that requires little head movement and minimal eye movement. It’s easy to forget that standard office furniture is designed for use 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. When you consider that a typical control room operates 24/7, 365 days of the year, we can see exactly why it’s useful to opt for purpose-built control room consoles.
The research tells us that the control room environment is strongly affected by a set of core factors:
- Ambient noise
- Air quality and temperature
We know that acoustics should be considered as a priority to reduce unnecessary noise and that air quality and temperature play an important role in keeping operators awake and alert. Ideally, room temperature should range from 21-22C.
Research suggests that indirect ambient lighting is best, especially where the ceiling reflects light down into the room.
The control room plays a central role during emergency situations with operators making often life and death decisions – so it’s critically important that we invest in creating the right environment, not just for staff efficiency but to enhance morale, foster long-term retention and therefore stability.
There are many ways we can make improvements to the environment we work in, from the layout of the room to the lighting, noise levels and decoration. What’s crucially important are the ways we manage screens and display equipment, not just for comfort but also health and safety.
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