It is important to take into consideration the influence of some domain-specific contextual factors on the ship control centres (SCC):
• The size and type of ship.
• Crew composition (number of operators, sometimes including a pilot).
• For specialised ships intended for specific trades, design could also be influenced by, e. g., the:
• Predominant weather in the area
• Layout of ports used frequently
• Type, nature, and specific requirements of the cargo
In a later section we discuss a few ship-specific design aspects, but many aspects of the design of ship control centres are similar to other control rooms. Most essentially, operators have to be able to reach and see all the information that they need to perform their tasks. This kind of general information and control room design is well covered elsewhere, and also in some ship-specific detail, in standards and guidelines (IMO, 2000; ISO, 2007).
A brief discussion is included here, which discusses the importance of human factors engineering (HFE) for ship control centres, and which is based on the ATO – MOS projects. HFE in this context means the comprehensive integration of human characteristics into the definition, design development, and evaluation of the SCC to optimise human-machine performance under specified conditions. Task and information analysis of SCC operations should be used to design each application and the required data exchange with other applications, considering that SCC applications software may be provided to support all ship operations. Examples are: navigation, propulsion, communications, manoeuvres, maintenance, alarm-monitoring and control systems, plus, in some cases, specialised applications such as ship administration, cargo management, and hull stress monitoring.
The size and type of the ship may restrict the space available for the SCC. Since the SCC is manned continuously, the effect of layout, decoration, and design on
crew well-being should be considered. The operability of the SCC in both routine and emergency operations should be considered. Operability factors include: having all instruments at hand, having working space sufficient to allow for easy movement, having ergonomically designed equipment, and having adequate and appropriate surroundings. It should furthermore be considered that the design for increased interaction by communication or sharing of information may give operational advantages in both routine and emergency operations.