Impact of Physical Ergonomics Design of Process Control Rooms on Operator Experience of Comfort, Stress and Emotions
In order to control different industrial production processes in an optimal manner, operators need well-designed control room environments that support them in all phases of process control. Operators need access to relevant information, presented at the right time, in a way that is possible to understand and get suitable support to adequate actions.
Research in ergonomics has indicated that a supportive physical comfortable environment makes it possible for operators to focus on the task to be performed without being occupied with properties in the environment that interfere with plans to be executed.
The purpose of this study was to examine how differences in physical ergonomic design of the working environment in a process control room effects operator work experience. The aim was to evaluate if a high-end control room concept including the latest ergonomic features had any effects on operator comfort and arousal in terms of perceived discomfort, stress-energy and emotions during process control, compared to a standard traditional control room.
In the experimental study two types of control rooms were evaluated and compared: one high-end control room with an optimised physical working environment including the latest ergonomic features and one standard traditional control room as found in industry. Twelve operators from various process industries participated in the experiments by running a simulation of a fictive paint factory for half a day in the two control rooms respectively. The operators’ comfort, stress and emotions were measured regularly via questionnaires during the experiments.
Student’s t-test and also the non-parametric Mann-Whitney U test were used to analyse the hypotheses if there were any significant differences between the operators’ perceived discomfort, stress-energy and emotions respectively in the two control room concepts.
The general conclusion from this study gave support for the benefits of a supporting ergonomic control room environment on operator experience in terms of comfort and arousal. In a longer perspective it seems reasonable to assume that increased comfort during process work should have a positive impact upon operator alertness, wellbeing and productivity.