Transforming Control Room Console Design with XR Technology

Ever feel like your new control room design project is stuck in a time warp? Endless meetings, static blueprints, drawings, and revisions based on guesswork can leave you frustrated and unsure if the final design truly addresses your process control needs.

Picture a scenario where stakeholders – operators, supervisors, architects, designers– can all collaborate in real time, virtually experiencing the control room before it’s built.

Too good to be true? Well, in reality, this kind of experience is within reach thanks to the power of Extended Reality (XR), encompassing both Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR).

Let’s dive deeper into this subject to understand how Tresco is transforming the way you interact with your control room console design. These are the topics we will be covering:

  1. What is Extended Reality (XR)?
  2. Transforming Control Room Design for the Future
  3. The Advantages of Extended Reality (XR) in Control Room Design
  4. VR Sneak Peek
  5. The WOW Factor of XR and How You Can Leverage it to Secure Stakeholder Support

What is Extended Reality (XR)?

Extended reality (XR) is a range of immersive technologies that includes Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR), as well as potential future technologies. XR improves experiences and interactions with environments and objects by blending virtual elements into them or creating entirely immersive realities. This emerging field is shaking up the way we interact with information, transforming industries, and shaping the future of human-computer interaction.

Augmented Reality

Mixed Reality

Virtual Reality

Lets have a closer look at a VR control room environment to get a better understanding of how you can merge this technologies into your workflow, you can zoom in or out, pan the control room around and experience your console they way your operators would:

Transforming Control Room Design for the Future

For over 50 years, control rooms have been the nerve centers of countless industries, from the hum of refineries to the constant flow of traffic management, the intricate dance of energy grids, and the pulse of manufacturing.

Traditionally, designing these critical spaces has been a static affair, relying 2D CAD designs, drawings and spec sheets to convey the functionality of the proposed control room solutions.

Just as various industries have welcomed a surge of innovation, the control room console design process has transformed towards user-friendliness and interactivity. This shift has been driven by innovative engineering and architecture firms such as Robert E. Lamb and pioneering control room console designers and manufacturers like Tresco Consoles.

The advantages of Extended Reality (XR) in control room design

Enhanced Communication and Collaboration With XR

XR not only enhances your individual design experience but also fosters better communication and collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders throughout the entire project. Sharing detailed drawings among collaborators can often lead to misunderstandings, as not every operator, supervisor, or project manager is trained to accurately interpret them.

VR visualizations provide a clear and concise representation of your design intent, ensuring everyone is aligned from the start. This minimizes communication gaps and ensures the final product meets your exact specifications.

Additionally, gaining approvals for a control room console design can be a lengthy process. VR allows stakeholders to virtually experience the design, leading to faster and more informed decision-making. This can significantly reduce the time it takes to get your project started.

Streamlining Project Workflow

Key players such as engineers or process control supervisors are not always available for in-person meetings, especially in our industry, where operators work within a 24/7 structure.

VR enables collaborators to bypass lengthy design and development meetings, diving directly into the core of the project. They can leave comments, concerns, praises, and requested modifications directly on the 3D models, providing a straightforward and effective communication channel. This approach effectively bridges the gap between control room console end users and designers.

Virtual Site Visits and Simplified Decision Making

No more static images! With VR, you can virtually “walk through” your control room design, testing sightlines, control room console placement, and operator workflow. This interactive approach allows you to identify and address potential issues early in the design phase.

Both virtual reality and augmented reality offer alternatives that can empower you and your team to experiment with different control room console configurations, and equipment arrangements, and decide whether they are or not, a proper fit for the monitoring process at hand.

The following are just a few examples of equipment and layout choices that frequently take place within any control room console development project.

  1. Single: Ideal for focused tasks of minimal space.
  2. Dual: Enhances multitasking and productivity.
  3. Multiple stacked: Useful for data intensive work
  1. Back wall Mounted: Clean look and maximized space
  2. Worksurface mounted: Simple and straightforward
    Frame Mounted (floating): Sleek appearance
  3. Mechanically adjustable: Allows for dynamic positioning, considering ergonomic needs 
  1. Collaborative layout: Optimal for operators working together on fast passed environments
  2. Isolated work: Enhanced focus and minimized distractions for highly sensitive work.
  3. Mixed: Some operations require both approaches to be implemented within a single space considering operational and process needs.

No matter the size or weight of your equipment we have several options of electronically controlled actuators to lift your workstation to better ergonomic standards. Or maybe your operation doesn’t require it, the decision is all yours.

Custom storage solutions to keep critical documents within close reach

  1. Task lights: Task specific, highly customizable
  2. Led Stack Lights: Communicate an emergency situation smoothly between collaborators
  3. Under-counter lighting: For a personalized touch on your workstation
  4. Overhead lighting: For broader spectrum lighting needs, that don’t bother other collaborators
  5. Circadian lighting: Ergonomic solution to synchronize with your circadian rhythm to help yo maintain focus
  1. Lighting: Control all your lighting needs from the touch sensitive panel of our Personal Environment Unit
  2. Temperature: Temperature is too hot, or cold, modify it at your leisure
  3. Push button enclosures: Shut down machinery and equipment in the event of an emergency
  4. Sit-Stand: Control the sit-stand functionalities from the push of a button or the touch of a screen on out Personal Environment Unit
  5. Custom operational controls: All operations are different and you might require something really specific, we got you covered

You will have plenty more elements to consider, that are specific to your project or required equipment, which is why visualizing the complete picture – how operators navigate the space and interact with the control room consoles – will enable you and your team to make informed decisions that optimize functionality, ergonomics, and overall efficiency.

The WOW Factor of XR

The previously mentioned points, along with many others, are critical and functionally beneficial aspects of integrating XR technologies into your control room console design process. However, one of the most compelling advantages is the persuasive influence you can exert on various stakeholders during the approval and decision-making phases. Securing this essential support could make or break your entire project.

These are some ways the wow factor of XR can get that project of your over the top:

  1. Immersive Storytelling: Presentations can be dry and forgettable, much more so if you take into account multiple blueprints, drawings and specifications. XR allows you to tell a story. Your audience gets the chance to experience the control room you envisioned firsthand, feeling the flow of information, visualizing sightlines, and understanding the operator’s perspective. This experience creates a strong impression and fosters a deeper connection to the project.
  2. Early Buy-in and Reduced Revisions: Static presentations often leave room for misinterpretation. XR allows stakeholders to visualize and identify potential problems early in the design process. Imagine a supervisor pointing out a blind spot in the console layout during the VR tour. This immediate feedback allows you to address concerns before they become costly revisions.
  3. Future-Proofing Your Vision: XR allows you to showcase the control room not just as it is, but as it could be. You could demonstrate how the consoles and your entire space can adapt to future technologies and changing workflows. This forward-thinking approach demonstrates the value of your design and sets your project as an investment in the future.

Extended reality is more than just a gimmick. It’s a powerful tool to engage stakeholders, secure buy-in, and ensure your control room console design vision becomes a reality.

Wrap-up

Extended Reality technology is transforming control room furniture design from a static process to a user-friendly, collaborative experience. This collaborative approach empowers you to create tailored control room console designs that optimize functionality, operator comfort, and overall efficiency.

Contact Tresco today to discuss how we can help you design future-proof control room furniture and consoles that empower your operators and streamline your mission critical operations.

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