Control rooms can be very hectic places. Maintaining a bird’s eye view of what is going on at all times is critical. Paradoxically, technology is both part of the problem and the solution. In this article, we present three of the most commonly heard operator control challenges and how to overcome them.
Guarding over public safety, security and other important things, operators need to have any situation under control at all times. As I will point out, visual integration is key because it greatly impacts the Human-Machine Interface, which, in turn, enhances the operator’s situational awareness. In reality, however, the control room workspace is often part of the problem, lacking in efficiency, structure and ergonomics. Therefore, optimizing the working conditions is one of the first things that need to be addressed.
"Visual integration is key because it greatly impacts the Human-Machine Interface"
Problem 1: Applications running on stand-alone systems
Information input is key for operators. That is why, whenever you walk into a control room, you will find lots and lots of hardware. For security reasons, sources cannot be mixed. In other words, every source needs a separate computer, meaning operators need to physically switch between workstations in order to do their job. Research indicates that more than 40% of the operators use more than 4 screens on the job. While this is definitely an effective way to stay in shape, it is not the way forward. The amount of screens should be defined by ergonomics and workflow, not by the amount of computers and systems to manage.
Having to switch between desks not only impacts response times but it also means operators need to manually write down or remember data to combine it with other systems. However, this results in an increased risk of human error and is therefore not advisable.
Problem 2: Several mouse/keyboard/audio sets
Tied to the ‘1 source, 1 computer, 1 screen’ issue, operators are often working with several mouse/keyboard/audio configurations. Organizing these according to the operator’s personal preferences can take up quite some time making it all the more difficult for coworkers to share their workstations.
KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switches can reduce the number of keyboard and mouse sets but they require the operator to manually select which system the KVM is connected to. Again, this leaves room for human error.
Problem 3: Keeping operator control costs down
There is technology, on the one hand, and then there is budget, on the other. Ideally, every control room runs on its own fully integrated system, allowing information from different sources to be made available to other support applications so that video and data can easily be shared. In such an environment, reports can be generated and distributed automatically, leaving no room for error.
However, building a fully integrated system requires a lot of resources and time. Most of the time neither of the two is available. Additionally, where legacy equipment and systems are involved, a fully integrated solution appears to be problematic.
Fortunately, there is an alternative …
Regaining control of the control room
OpSpace delivers all the benefits of HMI integration but avoids the costs. Thanks to visual integration, the right information is presented to the operators when and where they need it. Gone are the days of multiple mouse and keyboard sets. Instead, you simply need one set that can be used to control every screen and application.
Operators can organize the workspace according to their personal preferences and then simply save their settings. Furthermore, visual integration avoids security compliance issues and vendor dependencies.
Let’s take a closer look.
The benefits of OpSpace
With OpSpace you are in the center of the information all the time. Quite literally. The software integrates information from disparate sources and networks only at the presentation layer while guaranteeing the security of the applications across security domains. You simply select the application you want to work with and the system then automatically copies the data into the work area in front of the operator.
One keyboard and mouse
One keyboard, mouse and audio set provide seamless control across all sources. Stop wasting time physically switching from one workstation to the next. With OpSpace, you simply select the application you want, and dive in. This is especially handy during crisis situations.
Share your workspace
Organize your personalized workspace, save it and then use it automatically upon login, thanks to the “Follow me” function. This makes it easier than ever before to share your workstation with coworkers.
All this makes for a cleaner, better organized and more efficient workspace. View, monitor and interact with multiple clients that reside on multiple networks with different security clearances or liability concerns. All relevant information can be consulted and manipulated within a single pixel space.
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