Operator Control Challenges and Solutions

Control rooms are 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.

Guarding over public safety, security and other important things, operators need to have any situation under control at all times. Visual integration is the 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.

Problem 1 : Applications on stand-alone systems

Information input is the key for operators. There are lots of hardware in control room. 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 co-workers 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. But, 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, one set 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.

The benefits of OpSpace

One space

OpSpace keeps one at the center of the information all the time. The software integrates information from disparate sources and networks only at the presentation layer while guaranteeing the security of the applications across security domains. Once the application is selected the system 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. This is especially handy during crisis situations.

Share the workspace

The ‘Follow me’ function makes it easier than ever before to share your workstation with co-workers.

All this makes a cleaner, better organized and more efficient workspace. One views, monitors and interacts 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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