Part of the Puzzle

Exploring the best way to integrate a console

Video surveillance and alarm monitoring are crucial elements for all security operations. Command consoles are central to the planning and design of surveillance and monitoring facilities ranging from operations centers to guard stations. Choosing the right console for your installation can be intimidating.

From form to function, there is much to consider when selecting the right console for your needs. Room layout, equipment requirements, operator considerations and aesthetics are all a part of the equation.

User-Centered Design
Whether you need a single surveillance workstation or command consoles to furnish an entire control room, understanding the needs of your operators is key to selecting the right console design.

Well-designed consoles balance efficiency with ergonomics, which maximize operator comfort and minimize fatigue by connecting operators to technology to improve workflow and increase productivity.

Winsted Corp. adheres to the international standard known as ISO 11064. This standard is the backbone of ergonomic control room design and places great emphasis on user-centered design.

This user-centered approach to console design is particularly applicable to 24/7 security environments where reducing fatigue and enhancing operator comfort is at the forefront of the design objectives.

Top-Down Approach
The console designers at Winsted recommend a top-down approach to design, which provides a framework for ensuring that decisions on matters such as equipment selection, operating practices, working environments and furniture choices all derive from operating demands under all possible conditions.

No matter how well designed a workstation might be, the overall system will fail if operators are overloaded, undertaking tasks for which they are poorly trained or straining to read displays that are illegible.

With a top-down approach, the limitations of the operator are automatically included and potential mismatches between operator capabilities and system demands are minimized.

The first and most crucial step when taking a user-centered, top-down approach to selecting a console is to gather as much information as possible. The following are some basic but very important initial questions to ask before you begin planning a console layout:

  • Who will be working at the console, and what is his or her job function?
  • What type and how many workstations are needed for each job function?
  • How do the operators interact with each other and with equipment?

Ergonomic Considerations
There are often cases of fatigue and inefficiency in the control room, which are all easily addressed by well-designed ergonomic consoles.

First are improper lines of sight, which cause operators to strain their eyes to see information on displays and to shift and adjust their bodies into improper positions, causing discomfort and fatigue. Ergonomic consoles eliminate this issue by ensuring the ideal placement of monitors.

When designing display layouts, consider the following questions:

  • How many monitors can surround the operator without overwhelming them with information?
  • What are the dimensions of the monitors? (This helps determine the minimum and maximum viewing distance from the operator to the monitor.)
  • Does the operator need to be able to view a monitor wall in addition to monitors at the workstation?
  • Additional causes of fatigue in the control room include poor lighting resulting in eye strain; poor acoustics resulting in tension; traffic noise and distraction; and inadequate operator proximity resulting in inefficient communication.
  • When designing a control room to address these and other concerns, the following steps should be taken to ensure operator comfort and minimize fatigue.
  • Test console layout with operators for human tasks, including sequential task simulations.
  • Develop workstation layouts designed around acceptable reach zones and visual limitations.
  • Take into account maintenance requirements and removal of equipment from both the front and rear of the workstation.
  • Provide ergonomic footrests where appropriate.
  • Provide chairs with full adjustment capabilities.
  • Reduce excess heat and noise by locating electronics in an equipment room.
  • In workstation dimensions, consider the full height and size range of the operators, using height adjustable work surfaces where appropriate.

Choosing the Right Console
Significant advances in technology -- including the move from analog to digital and the increased awareness of workplace health issues -- have inspired a dramatic shift in console design. Today’s workstations are smaller, more functional and more aesthetically appealing.

Choosing a modular, customizable console enables you to more easily and affordably create a console design that meets the needs of your operators and your budget. From single operator workstations to fully integrated central control rooms, modular consoles allow you to create an ideal solution for maximum control.

Offering a variety of modular command consoles provides enough versatility to make them ideal for virtually any control room application.

Because each workstation is ergonomically designed to ensure appropriate viewing angles and to keep critical functions within arms-length, operators sitting at customizable consoles are more comfortable and efficient.

This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of Security Products.

About the Author

Dave Tewel is the western regional manager for Winsted.


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