The control room market is changing as operators have access to more content and a more comfortable work environment, and there are now several key things that end users need to consider when building out a control room that is future- proof, says Simon Williams, technical director of CCOMM Integrated Technology Service Inc.
Williams says new control room technology should push the boundaries of technology and be true end-to-end solutions that represent a good return-on-investment, especially as control room operators contend with the adoption of Industry 4.0 advanced technology and the ability to virtualize more source content.
How the control room market is changing
As other areas of technology advance, control room operators are hoping to harness that power and virtualize more content, improve the quality of display technology, streamline their operations and invest in high-quality hardware with redundancy built in.
According to Williams, control room operators are gaining access to more and more data or content to help them with their jobs, and that is demanding a “big move to virtualization of sources.”
There is also more emphasis on creating a more comfortable work environment for operators and to help reduce fatigue in control room environments by implementing higher quality display technology and reducing complexities of keyboard and mouse switching.
In addition, operators are asking for more seamless video wall technology like direct view LED and bezel-less displays.
There is also a move towards enhancing physical security and to move physical workstation access away from the operator to help avoid a potential loss of data or introducing malware into the control room environment.
When sourcing control room components, Williams says end users should look for solutions that optimize the use of rich media content, including virtualized sources, web and IP video.
Users should also look for reliable hardware and software systems with redundancy built into the core and with the flexibility to provide different levels of redundancy to the total solution, depending on the needs of the organization.
Control room components should also have access to advanced APIs to allow for deeper integration, Williams says.
How manufacturers are adapting to those trends
With those trends in mind, manufacturers of control room hardware like Barco are releasing products to the market that give control room operators the virtualization capabilities and flexibility that operators demand.
One example of the control room market is evolving was exemplified in a recent control room project that was particularly challenging for Williams and his company. The control room included a lot of monitors and other sources, and the end user wanted to add more workstations to control more processes. However, the room is small and the customer’s need to access more information was outgrowing the space.
To meet those needs, CCOMM Integrated Technology Service chose Barco OpSpace, an operator workstation solution designed for the control room that allows for:
- Visualization of all critical sources in a single pixels space
- Building task-specific layouts of sources across multiple displays
- Accessing IT and OT sources from a single interface
- Controlling all content with just one keyboard and mouse
- Adding more sources or systems to the workflow
- Loading personalized settings from any connected workstation
For control room management, the upgraded control room system also runs on Barco’s TransForm N Management Server.
“Using OpSpace with multiple 4K monitors, we can have up to 16 sources on each monitor and the ability to have a monitor designated as the work area to allow native video interaction with each source when the operator needs it,” Williams says. “This is all controlled with a single keyboard and mouse – no more manual KVM switches.”
Meanwhile, Barco’s Transform N Management Server allows the end user to leverage overhead monitors and display source content as an overview wall, adding to the visible source capacity.
“This creates a more manageable and visually appealing control environment,” Williams says. “So within the same physical real estate, we gain so much more space for sources.”
Williams calls Barco’s control room solutions fully dynamic, allowing each user to arrange the layouts to fit their specific workflow.
“This is a massive advantage for the operator,” Williams says.
Why control room operators choose Barco control room solutions
To stay ahead of rapidly changing technology trends, end users would be best served using hardware from a manufacturer that is meeting demand and providing cutting-edge technology.
According to Williams, Barco is adapting those changing control room trends with solutions that are truly end-to-end and push the boundaries of technological advances.
“With Barco we have access to a full range of product from Direct View LED, rear projection cubes, and flat panel to control ware and various forms of input capture technologies,” Williams says.
Williams also says Barco provides high-quality products and brings a great amount of detail to the finer points of its products. The company offers a complete control room system lineup, products that last, a full support program, enhanced feature sets and “unrivalled innovation,” Williams says.
“Technologies such as image fatigue reduction, and light/color dynamic calibration mean that the solution looks amazing when installed, and still looks amazing years after,” Williams says.