Integrated Operations and the Control Room of the Future


Ms Fiona Campbell

There are several key elements that are not immediately obvious when planning a centralized control room, most notably the role of the human in this environment. Within the industrial environment, the focus in the past has mainly been on the physical and automated component of the control room, which is continuing to advance at a rapid rate. The human impact was ignored regardless of the fact it is the human that makes the most critical decisions when abnormal situations occur. There are three critical elements when considering the human: operator health and the impact on plant safety, the upcoming generation change, and the ever increasing risk of cybersecurity. Attracting and retaining the new generation is going to be challenging, especially as market trends are indicating that there will be a shortage in terms of availability and quality of labour. The new generation requires a technologically challenging environment, but the more tech savvy they are the more risk to cybersecurity – tying together the physical environment with the technical aspects is key when it comes to the design of a control room that is focused on increasing productivity and at the same time mitigating security risk as much as possible. The key to fulfil the needs of the operator in the control room working environment is to optimise and improve physical as well as psychological factors Usability goals such as safety, satisfaction, fun, entertainment, helpfulness, motivation and creativity all lead to the attraction and engagement of the new generation and at the same time leads to increased safety, productivity, and as a result, ROI. According to a recent study by Johnson Controls, 75% of Generation Y (Gaming Generation) would prefer to work in an urban location, and at the same time want to work in a collaborative environment and 25% of the world population is now of this generations. At the same time, a study analysing the labour market outlook conducted by Enform in 2016 indicated that a total of 48% of projected net hiring between 2017 and 2020 will due to age related attrition. The control room needs to be viewed as a control centre that impacts all aspects of an organizations operations and as a result, control room design must be seen as a critical part of an organization’s future planning. We will examine the upcoming challenges and provide guidance on how to effectively implement integrated operations within the control room environment, specifically focusing on the human factor, leading to an increase in productivity, output and at the same time decreasing risk.