In designing a room layout, there are many things to consider. To illustrate this, a redesign of a traffic control centre, as shown below is discussed. The room has a limited size and has four operator consoles.
- For the new situation, again four operator consoles need to be located. It appears to be possible to add the office area to the control room.
- There are outside windows on one side. As a consequence, operators cannot sit facing the windows (too much contrast), or with their back to the windows (glare).
- The location of doors determines, where people may enter the room; here it is mostly behind the operators. This is generally disliked by most people, and also rather distracting. It is better to have a direct view on the entrances.
- Structural items, such as steel supporting columns, may limit layout options.
Starting points and design requirements
- Can we change size and shape of the control centre? To a certain degree: yes. The door to the hallway (main entrance) can be relocated; and the partition wall between the supervisor office and the control room can be removed.
- A footprint for a new operator console is developed. Due to the limited space, it shall be as small as possible, given sufficient room for 3 or 4 screens. It was noticed, that all operators have one overview screen/image in common. Hence it was decided to design a large overview display, to be viewed from 4 consoles.
- The entrance from the hallway was moved to the corner of the control room, in view of the users. However, more importantly it was decided to route all traffic via the supervisor office, instead of directly coming in from the hallway.
The layout as shown in the shoebox 3D model below, will only be effective in case essential communication between the operators is limited to those sitting next to each other. For other communication patterns within a control centre, different layouts are needed.
Another example of a (large) control room layout is shown below. Here, there are six large operator consoles. The green lines indicate the most important communication links between consoles. The blue lines indicate the expected most frequent walking ways from the entrance and the social area to consoles.