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Understand the Control Room Design Layout Requirements

The control room design layout is conceived during the Conceptual Design Phase of a control room project and formalized during the Detail Design Phase. The requirement comes from the initial data collection phase capturing and analyzing functions and tasks, developing room layouts, furnishing designs, displays and controls, and communication interfaces to necessary to satisfy needs identified.

The room layout is dictated by things like how many people, how many consoles, the number of screens and keyboards per console. Other considerations are the room adjacencies based on a priority-based system where the most meaningful adjacency is, for example, a room that needs a view into the control room to observe what is going on such as a Supervisors office, a war room, a control engineers development room.

The second most important adjacency is a room that may not have a view into the control room but should have a close adjacency, such as kitchen, a library, a bathroom, or a needed resources office.

The third adjacency is classed as neutral, and it has no right or wrong requirements for adjacency such as a janitors closet which may be close because it has a requirement to be close to a bathroom for water and drainage, but there are no requirements from the control room perspective that it should be close.

The forth adjacency we class as a negative adjacency because it may cause walk-in disturbances, noise or some other impact on the efficiency of the operator’s jobs and compromise Situation Awareness.

An example would be an HVAC or Electrical Room which can transmit noise, vibration into the control room.
The layout requirements require multiple disciplines to identify detailed design requirements and provide solutions, some of these disciplines are outlined below:

  • Human Factors Engineer will identify the ergonomic requirement and will specifically follow the ISO 11064 Ergonomic Standard for Control Centers. Section 1 describes the design methodology and the phases to follow. Section 2 provides insight into the principles for the arrangement of control suites. What ergonomic aspects should be considered and some detailed considerations for specific rooms and areas. Section 2 covers general consideration for control room layout, architectural/building recommendations, workstation (console) arrangements, shared visual displays, off-workstations, personnel circulation and maintenance access. Section 4 layout and dimension of workstations covering factors determining control workstation design, user population considerations, general user considerations, user requirements, visual tasks, general visual considerations, general visual recommendations, auditory tasks, general auditory considerations, and recommendations. Working postures, considerations and needs and recommendations, control workstation layout considerations, displays controls, layout requirements, other workstation tasks.
  • The architect will identify the physical spaces, air flows, traffic flow, styles, furnishings and will make the requirements identified work from a physical perspective. One of the most important aspects of the role of the architect is to ensure the design follows and conforms to codes and practices; an example could be to meet ADA requirements for corridors, doors, ramps, toilets, etc.
  • Sub-contractors are involved in the design process; the architect does not have all the skills to design a control room they bring in HVAC specialist to design the heating, cooling and humidity controls but the architect provides the design specification based on the Ergonomic study. They will also sub-contract structural design, and electrical.
  • Site-specific requirements, the automation system may be designed and developed by the owner or they may sub-contract that to a vendor or consultant to design the server rooms and the automation system placement and wiring. The companies own IT group will do the IT system and communications design, i.e., phones system, radios, CCTV and video conferencing systems.