singleton birch

Industrial Control Room Furniture for Gas, Oil and Process Control

This month, Thinking Space launch our Sector Showcase series.

Tackling a different sector each month, we discuss industry issues and explain the benefits of a Thinking Space console in each environment. We illustrate with case studies and solutions.

Plant and Process Sector

The plant and process sector covers a multitude of control room environments. These include manufacturing, energy, utilities and renewables, chemical and pharmaceutical, life sciences and biotech.

Why Improve Your Industrial Control Room?

From our experience, there are commonalities with all these environments, giving rise to the need for new industrial control room furniture.

Dilapidation

  • Environments can be older and fatigued. Modernisation can occur on a cyclical basis. The overall aim is to save on increasing maintenance costs due to dilapidation of existing facilities.
existing-control-room-furniture-emr-golden-grove
The old control room at EMR Golden Grove, before it's upgrade

industry changes and rationalisation

  • As your industry changes, either due to technology, processes, or government/safety legislation, then the requirement for upgrading control room facilities and technology is identified. A great example of this is the phasing out of fossil fuels in favour of biomass as a low carbon fuel.
  • Industrial rationalisation within manufacturing industries to reduce costs and remain competitive aims to increase efficiencies by the better use of resources. By combining existing monitoring sites which are more expensive to maintain, into one master control room, efficiencies in staff and running costs can be achieved.
  • An improvement in the customer or supplier experience needs a modern, presentable monitoring environment from which they can undertake evaluation and quality control testing of products and processes.
  • A surge in manufacturing output occurs to meet rapid demand or a boost of supplies. The current COVID-19 pandemic has seen a surge in the production of medical and food supplies.Consumables such as toilet rolls, hand sanitisers and soaps have also increased. As upscaling continues, additional control room monitoring facilities could be required.
  • As we experience climate change across the globe, farming industries are seeing a shift in the type of produce they are able to grow. This in turn requires bigger and better facilities for cultivation and output. In the UK for example, a warmer climate and more sunshine facilitates growth of climate-controlled products. 'Buying local' is also seeing a shift.

changes in technology

  • The biggest influence on upgrading plant and process control rooms in recent years has been the installation of SCADA front end systems.  These control systems display networked data on to graphical user interfaces on video walls and at desktop level. SCADA systems typically replace more traditional analog measurement controls (dials and gauges). Data transmission allows information to be gathered from further afield on larger sites back to bigger centralised control rooms, rather than multiple smaller localised control rooms.

health and safety

  • Changes in standards, particularly around health and safety are also drivers for updating control room furniture. The standards for both control room design and 24/7 furniture have evolved. More understanding around the benefits of sit/stand working has been promoted. Modern ergonomics and the control room environment itself have seen revisions in guidance and best practice for control room design.

Expert Consultation

These are all driving factors for investing in new industrial control room furniture. Turning them into reality will usually require a business case to prove return on investment. This is where Thinking Space will work with you to achieve approvals. From initial consultation to design, manufacturing and installation, we help you develop control room modernisation plans from a complete perspective. Your control systems and operating conditions act as the main focus for the design.

Do you have equipment or control systems which are too antiquated to decommission? Perhaps they are too critical that it simply cannot be moved during the control room modernisation?

This is not a problem for a Thinking Space console. The design of the console can be built around this feature and kept running whilst the control room is being upgraded.

Such issues can be addressed from the very beginning and are par for the course for us. This gives you peace of mind when planning your project and creating your business case for funding approval.

Choosing the right materials

Furniture in an industrial control room needs to be hardwearing and built to last a number of years until reinvestment is possible. Thinking Space offer a 10 year guarantee for our technical furniture. Above all, it can adapted or expanded at a later date, making it an ideal choice for futureproofing your control room.

Aluminium versus steel

A traditional steelbase desk can provide a strong build. However, aluminium is the key material used in a Thinking Space console as a solution for industrial control room furniture. Aluminium gives rise to a number of benefits over steel furniture.

  • It is lightweight as well as strong.Transporting is easy, and installation straightforward, making it flexible to relocate at a later date.
  • Consoles can be easily adapted on site with minimal effort.
  • Furniture is completely recyclable at the end of it’s 10 year life span.
  • The framework has an open chassis structure which allows for heavy cable management and accommodation of client control systems. Power distribution and data networks are easily accessible for maintenance, thanks to the option of removable or hinged access panels in the rear of the console.
framework of a thinking space console
Console framework detail

Thicker worktops will provide a solid working area for operators, and will easily sustain multiple monitor mounts and desktop equipment. All worktop materials contain a sanitised silver ion core, which is certified for use in food preparation areas and hygienic in multi-operator workspaces.

A fire-rated solution for furniture is required in hazardous environments. All materials used by Thinking Space, from the aluminium framework to the panels, provide this level of assurance.

Technical design

configurations

Control rooms tend to be larger to accommodate multiple users or to monitor large banks of screens. Ergonomic viewing angles are essential at every working position. Popular configurations are U-shaped, L-shaped or crescent shaped in process control environments.

typical process control room console
Typical configuration render drawing

Inside the void

With larger desk spans and more complex configurations, the technical design of industrial control room furniture has greater importance. The void of a Thinking Space console provides an important feature for process control rooms. The completely open and hollow chassis created by the aluminium framework  provides capacity for equipment storage and systems integration.

cable management animation detail
We like to think of our consoles as vessels to contain your equipment, power and data solutions, thanks to the open void within every console

Cable management

A cable management system of baskets and/or trunking is run throughout the framework. This provides a tidy and professional solution for wiring and cabling, below and within the desk. Access to all cable management is via the removable panels. The standard solution supplied is two levels of wire cable basket installed throughout the width of the console. Further options are available to meet your particular requirements.

Equipment mounting

Mounting rails can be fitted within the void to mount control and systems equipment. Typical methods we have seen used and have aided accommodation are Unistrut systems, DIN rails and top hat mounting rails.

19” racking

19” racking is fitted within the current E.I.A. standards as well as 19” rack mount equipment. Typical equipment fitted includes power distribution units, cat5/cat6 patch panels and fibre patch panels. These can be fitted within the void or within PC bays at the front of the desk.

Power & Data solutions

A range of power distribution options can be fitted into the rear of the desk. These range from fitted PDUs to full plug and play solutions. As part of the more comprehensive designs, the consoles can include small distribution boards with power distribution, electrical trunking and isolator switches. All cabling is enclosed and works are commissioned on site.

For data requirements, switches can be mounted in the void with associated data points fitted within the trunking along the length of the console.

Emergency stop/shut down buttons can be fitted on the side or within an enclosure on the desk surface.

Maintenance lighting

LED maintenance lighting can be fitted into the void, illuminating the space without distracting those working at the desk.

PC bays

PC bays can be provided for equipment. The bays are located beneath the worktop and double as leg supports. The bays are built to house PC towers and are fronted with lockable smoked glass doors. All PC bays are clad with ventilated panels to allow air circulation. In process control environments, taking up legroom for the operator is not a preferred option. Therefore, we find that PC’s, alarm panels, etc. are fitted within the void.

Moni-Trak

The Moni-Trak perfect positioning rail is surface mounted in to the console worktop. This allows the routing of cables safely to the desk, keeping them safe and protected from the rugged environment. The flexibility of the Moni-Trak column mount allows positioning at any point along its length.

Moni-Trak mounts hold stationery, touch screens and tablets, keeping them safe and protected from the rugged environment. The need to accommodate multiple PC’s and hardware into the desk can be relocated to the rear void of a Thinking Space desk. This does not impact on the comfort of the operator by taking up precious legroom.

moni-trak close up
The Moni-Trak perfect positioning rail

uneven floors

We find floor issues with many clients’ premises. Where it is not possible to level an existing floor, our consoles can be fitted with levelling feet. This allows for perfect adjustment and levelling on site.

Case studies

Each of our Plant & Process case studies highlight a particular requirement or issue for our customer. A combination of design and materials solving the problem illustrate to other clients how engineer-friendly our consoles are.

Flexitricity

Highlights process monitoring and the importance of showroom branding and aesthetics

flexitricity-control-room-furniture
The new monitoring showroom at Flexitricity
Read case study

British Solar Renewables

Highlights industrial control room furniture height adjustment features

bsr-monitoring-control-room close up
New monitoring room at British Solar Renewables
Read case study

Bombay Sapphire

Hightlights viewing angles and building constraints to overcome

Case Study Process Control Room Furniture for Bombay Sapphire
One of two monitoring control rooms at Distillers Bombay Sapphire
Read case study

Singleton Birch Quarries

Highlighting large spanning consoles

singleton birch control room desk close up left
Horseshoe console at Singleton Birch Quarries
Read case study

EMR Golden Grove, Australia

A remote site installation

process control room furniture for EMR Golden Grove image
EMR Golden Grove Mining Control Room
Read case study

Rutherford Appleton laboratory

Multiple screen displays and ergonomic features

master control room
Main control room at Rutherford Appleton Laboratories
Read case study

No matter how early in the journey you are, get in touch with us. We guide you through the whole process.

Next month...

Don't miss our CCTV control room focus.

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