In the design and positioning of equipment and furniture in the control room it is important to use a systematic approach. It is essential for this work to be carried out in accordance with the guidelines set out in Chapter 13 and with the cooperation of all the parties affected, including architects, instrument designers and, of course, with particular reference to the operators. It is important for the operators to have the opportunity to take part in the design of their workplace. The operators, as users, are often the best experts on the physical design and positioning of equipment due to their practical experience. The experience of the operators with the equipment allows the customisation of the control room layout. In addition, new environmental or health and safety laws are giving operators new rights of participation in this work in order to protect their interests and create a good working environment.
The planning work is done in four different stages:
1. Analysis based on job descriptions related to the function of the process.
2. Determination of staffing levels, and description and specification of equipment.
3. Producing sketches and drawings (including three-dimensional drawings).
4. Making models and mock-ups.
The aim of the analysis stage is to form a basis for the designers to work on; this will be discussed in more detail later. Determination of the staffing levels and requirements is a task, which is included in the analysis. Here it is important that any characteristics of the operators, such as anthropometric measurements, should be determined and specified. The various types of equipment to be used in the control room must also be specified. The specification of this must include, for example, physical dimensions, noise level, and heat production.
Production of sketches and drawings is an important stage in the work. Ordinary two-dimensional drawings and sketches are often difficult to read, and give a very limited understanding of the final working environment. For example, it is very difficult to appreciate physical factors such as lighting or noise or to visualise a three-dimensional room from two-dimensional drawings. It is therefore important to produce additional three-dimensional drawings, which should subsequently be complemented with small or full-scale models and/or mock-ups of the proposed workplace. It is only when these have been produced that the relative advantages and disadvantages of any particular layout can be discussed with the operators.