Designing an Ergonomic Control Room
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ergonomics is defined as “the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population.” Now this may seem like a general statement, it definitely makes sense with respect to designing a control room to meet the needs of employees at their respective workstations. Since there are so many factors affecting the ergonomics of any particular data center or control room, the goal as of the past few decades or so has been to design the console furniture around the user.
For companies in this space, there are definitely much higher standards and expectations. Previously, the idea was to build large and easy to fit into workstations with plenty of working space and room for large, bulky computer monitors. Today, however, the smaller the better with respect to console size. Advanced technologies provide us with machining techniques and various lightweight metals, allowing us to create a more compact, smaller and ergonomic workstation. This makes the planning stages much easier when designing a control room from the ground up or even from an existing structure.
Since everything happens in the control room, a smart design is extremely important. You must take all factors into consideration including the amount the control room has and how many console furniture workstations it will allow for without overloading your facility. Even more important, you must take into account the comparable space each and every operator will require to be comfortable and effective at their jobs. Coincidentally, the entire system will break down if the operators are overloaded in their work spaces. We are talking ergonomics here so user comfort is our top priority.
Layout & Size
Since the control room is such an important aspect of any critical facility it’s important to determine how to time how much equipment of people the room will need to house. There needs to be a balance. If balance cannot be achieved within the physical limits of the space than a larger room may be necessary or it may make more sense to divide your command center between several adjacent rooms. While console furniture is minimalist by nature and requires little space per operator, you still need to take into account space to be allotted for the tools of the trade including keyboard, a mouse, dual monitors (which are typically mounted to the back slatwall of a console), a radio and/or intercom, a telephone and, of course, space for writing or sketching.
Once you have size figured out the next thing to consider is the shape of a room. Most rooms by default are built with four walls a.k.a. a square or a rectangle. The simple room design is typically the best scenario for control room. Rooms that have wide-angled or sharp-angled walls may not fit console furniture in the best way possible, leaving you with extra, wasted space. Designing a control room with the right shape and proper amount of space can go a long way toward achieving an efficient, comfortable, and ultimately, ergonomic operating environment.
Adding a bit of flair and customization to your control room and console furniture will not only make your operators feel like they’re part of a professional team but it will advertise your corporate identity to visitors and potential customers. A lot of console furniture companies offer custom inlays to their side panels, which can be logos, taglines, or even photographs depending on the capabilities of the company. Even something as simple as a pinstripe using your company’s brand the colors can make an ordinary console look like part of the team.
As previously mentioned, console placement is important to get the best out of your space and out of your employees. Many companies set up their furniture in long rows side-by-side in several rows deep. A lot of operators have multiple monitor screens for working on several projects or renderings at the same time but nowadays most companies also have large, wall-mounted monitors that display information and data sets easily visible to everyone in the control room. For furniture-mounted monitors: it is critical that these are adjustable with respect to both brightness and movability so that operators can be as comfortable as possible while they work.
Since console furniture is radically different from your standard office furniture it’s important to note that while they both can exist together in a control room, functionality is of the utmost importance. Of course, counsel furniture has a much heftier price tag associated with it compared to regular office furniture. This should not be a factor when designing an ergonomic control room because, as we’ve previously mentioned, comfort comes first. Having energetic and efficient operators will recoup any and all costs in the long run. Plus, console furniture can last for many years with its rigid construction while office furniture may get you five years at most.
Make sure that whichever route you take when constructing your critical facility you remember to take these recommendations into account. If you hire the right company to help they should foresee any and all problems or concerns addressed in this article.