In many control centers it can be thought that good technical furniture is eternal, however, the quick evolution of technology and the growing awareness of the importance of the human factor limit the solutions of the past, forcing control sonsole manufacturers to challenge themselves and think now about the ability to address future technologies and needs.
Obsolete furniture can cause different problems within a control center, from technical limitations to difficulties in health and wellness of operators. But, how do we know if the technical furniture of the control center is obsolete? And, which kind of incoveniences can it cause to the operation?
Technical features and equipment
It is common, even nowadays, to see control consoles with cabinets for obsolete equipment (such us CRT or older monitors that occupied big spaces due to their deepth) or with excessive space in technical compartments for computer equipment that in many cases are no longer necessary. This makes the dimensions of the old consoles exaggerated and therefore take up too much space.
By not having custom compartments, these consoles become obsolete for the integration of new technologies forcing the new equipment to be placed without the appropriate ergonomic and technical requirements for a control center, and leaving an oversized space for the current needs.
Another drawback is that these old control consoles do not usually have any kind of tray or adaptation to properly manage the cabling, both electrical and data, which means that it not only looks disorganized, but also makes maintenance and updating of the equipment tasks difficult, without forgetting the lack of security it entails.
The consoles manufacturers are forced to design increasingly dynamic solutions, where adaptability and flexibility have an increasingly important role.
For a control center, furniture is sought that is aeasily adaptable to unexpected changes trhough modular systems, that are easy to assemble and connect; that allow, for example, to adjust the type of supports, compartments and, in general, the layout of the console, wiring and equipment. Also, the challenge becomes increasindgly challenging, since all this must be aimed to improving maximum phisical conditions of people, a concept that in GESAB we apply under the theme “people centred design” whose objective is to improve substantially the user experience, both of the product and of the environments where they is integrated.
Previously, the necessary importance was not given to this concept, which has become much more relevant in the last 20 years.
The design of control consoles used to be more focused on the technical part than on the fuman factor, that was why conditions such as dimensions or comfort and security features, in general, weren’t usually a part of the design process, causing big incidents and discomfort due to work diseases.
International ergonomic design standards for control centers, such as ISO 11064 or UNE-EN 527 for ergonomic furniture, have established new principles and rules to develope ergonomic design considering the dimensions, safety features, stability, resistance, fatigue, etc., which guarantee the best conditions for the operators and reduce incidences of work illness and fatigue.
Options as the Sit & Stand consoles, models with motorized elevation, allow the ergonomics and comfort to carry to another lever, since they give each operator the option to choose their most appropriate work position in addition to managing their periods of activity and rest. Most of the operators stay seated for periods of 8 hours or more with almost nil level of physical activity, which promotes a sedentary attitude, an increase in pathologies related to overuse in the bone-muscle-articular system, a reduction in blood circulation, numbness of the muscles or the adoption of bad postures.
Through more modern furniture with a Sit & Stand system operators can take active breaks every 2 hours, for periods of 15 minutes, just by raising the envelope and standing up, thus reducing the previously described risks and favoring different processes such as decision-taking or problem solving, due to the reduction in fatigue and stress and the increase in concentration.
Aesthetics and user experience
The large size of the obsolete control consoles also affects the aesthetic factor and the motivation and feeling of belonging of the operators, since the control center must be a pleasant and aesthetically updated environment. In addition, some control rooms are usually spaces that also receive internal and external user visits, the image projected by this space being decisive in the perception of the operational capacity of the company.
The colors and design of the furniture also play a very important role in aesthetics, since they can produce an old-fashioned effect or, on the contrary, allow the validity of the consoles for a maximum time lapse by selecting timeless colors and designs.
As well as ergonomic factors, environmental factors have become relevant in recent years, however, previously consoles were not designed with environmentally sustainable materials in mind.
Currently, there are consoles based on a sustainable design strategy as they are products designed to last and manufactured with resistant and planet-friendly materials. Along these, there are standards such as Greenguard that allow these sustainability strategies to be measured and certify compliance with the most rigorous chemical emission standards in the world, which helps reduce indoor air pollution in the workplace and the risk of chemical exposure.
In conclusion, having obsolete furniture can have repercussions at different levels of the organization: from technical functionality and operability, the health of the operators, the experience within the control center, to the impact and commitment of the company with the environment.
The innovation process within GESAB is oriented towards the development of control consoles that provide great versatility and flexibility, taking into account the current reality and the possible changes that the future will bring in terms of technology, ergonomics, user experience or the environment.