What is a Control Room?: Five Different Types of Control Rooms

what is a control room

In terms of operations, control rooms are the mind and heart of monitoring and management practices. Smooth and well-defined operations are the name of the game in any control room, as well as a distinct chain of command and clear procedural guidelines set forth by a control room manager.

What is a Control Room?

By definition, a control room is a central location where technicians and managers manage the everyday operations—as well as maintain and enact crisis operations—for a given entity. Whether it’s a control room for a police station, refinery, or other process-intensive company or organization, the control room is where the magic happens.

Control rooms are used in industries ranging from oil and gas pipelines to prisons to air traffic control. In this article, we are exploring the differences between several types of control rooms. You’ll see for each kind of control room, there are different considerations—and some similarities. 

Different Types of Control Rooms

Control rooms for different industries and uses have different needs. Here, we have a list of several common applications for control room layouts, as well as the considerations you might need to take when building yours.

Police Control Rooms

Police station control rooms are the command center for the police force. That means being able to communicate effectively with patrolmen in the field is paramount.

Along with the space needed for networking equipment and telephone or radio equipment, police stations have a particular need for monitors for surveillance. Choosing the right control room furniture for a police control room means finding the right balance between accessibility and efficient ease of movement—there are times even the control room staff might need to be called into the field. 

Process Control Rooms

Process control rooms are where monitoring of various industrial and technical processes takes place. Sometimes this will require storing large pieces of equipment—oversized servers, computers, and monitors—that can graphically represent the various processes taking place in your facility.

Running a cyber security business, or some other technology-intensive industry will present a need for an efficient and storage-heavy process control room. Focus on the scarcity of fixtures and consolidating groups of people who work together, especially in terms of staff who work on different parts of the same process, when designing your process control room. 

Nuclear and Refinery Control Rooms

Refineries, whether nuclear or otherwise, as well as large industrial complexes, bring their own challenges when designing control rooms.

Many of these types of industrial control rooms need large equipment, ample desk space, and space for surveillance and monitoring devices. The key to designing a power plant or industrial control room is whether or not you need to have everything in one room, or if several spaces can be used for various aspects of controlling conditions and crisis situations throughout the facility.

Two Types of Control Rooms

The needs of your particular industry or organization will determine what kind of control room you need. At large, there are two types of control rooms you can build, with the choice coming from equipment, mobility needs, and staffing needs.

Stationary Control Rooms

If there is a clearly established location for your control room, you will need to only consider the types of fixtures that are inside. This includes desks, monitor stands, and whatever else you may need to fulfill whatever tasks you must monitor and complete.

Modular Control Rooms

There may come a time when you need to set up a separate control room from your own main location, or you may need to establish a control room where there wasn’t one before. Much like modular additions to homes, we carry modular control room fixtures that cover a wide array of space needs and size constraints.

Common Mistakes When Creating a Control Room 

Your control room must be able to work efficiently. This means that there must be a space for everything and that everything must be in its own space. To avoid making some of the most common mistakes, we’ve put together the following list. 

Avoid Poor Lighting 

People have to work inside your control room. Therefore, keeping the space well-lit should definitely be one of your top considerations. If you attempt to skimp on costs by cutting down on the lighting, you’re only going to receive a poorer quality of work. Additionally, you’ll be asking your employees to provide fast answers when they can’t even properly see their equipment. 

Not only is this bad for employee retention, but it could also lead to devastating results in the field. Imagine for a minute that you’ve built a control room for a police department, yet the officers inside it can’t see everything clearly. The difference in time that it takes for them to figure out what’s what could literally cause someone’s death. Don’t take this chance. Always provide enough light for your control room.  

Not Being User-Friendly 

It’s hard to expect your employees to pick up on their control room duties if the room itself isn’t user-friendly. Therefore, everything inside the control room should be easy to find and use. You should never allow an area to become cluttered, nor should it become overly noisy and congested. 

When you design a control room, keep in mind that you may need to expand in the future. Allowing extra space for a potential expansion will be much easier than trying to cram extra people and equipment into the existing space. This will also ensure that your employees have everything they need to do a good job. After all, no one will do their best work if they have a coworker practically sitting in their lap. Provide ample space for everyone and ensure that the room is laid out in a way that simply makes good sense to each employee. 

Using Outdated/Non-Ergonomic Furniture 

You could try to save some money on your control room by reusing very old control room console furniture and other technical furniture, but you’ll regret it in the long run. 

The fact is that using ergonomic furniture will allow your employees to stay sharp for longer. If you choose to go the ancient furniture route instead, you’ll see a rise in absenteeism and a drop in productivity. Instead, purchase some newer, lightly used control room furniture and watch people comfortably rise to the challenge. 

However, that’s not to say that you can’t ever invest in used furniture. For instance, Saraval Industries has a wide selection of used technical benching, conference room furniture,  work chairs, and more that are ergonomic and very cost-effective. 

Learn more about control room compliance

Creating a Layout That Doesn’t Take into Account Your Employees

Have you ever seen a control room that looks fabulous but doesn’t actually work the way it should? This is what happens if you value flash over substance. 

Instead, stop trying to reinvent the wheel and go with a well-designed workflow. Make sure you take into account how your employees work, along with how they collaborate with each other. All of these pieces are critical to a successful control room, so don’t forget to consider them before you set everything up. 

Contact Saraval Industries for Your Control Room Furniture Solutions
If you are looking to set up your own control room, contact us today to see how our wide array of offerings can be of service to you. We offer everything from state-of-the-art consoles to ergonomic Aeron chairs by Herman Miller, and our inventory is constantly changing and expanding.

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