Control Room Renovation

Get it right the second time around

An automation and ergonomic upgrade in your control room can literally make your plant more efficient, and hence more profitable.

A control room renovation has nothing to do with the type of home improvement renovation that someone might do to, say, their kitchen, for aesthetic reasons. This is about profound advancements in human factors engineering and safety in the last 30 years that deliver immediate return on investment.

30 Years of Control Room Renovation Expertise

BAW Architecture’s control room design portfolio spans over 30 years, and includes over 100 new-build or renovation projects around the globe, for firms such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, Fluor, and Honeywell. During that period we have realized that there are three main types of renovations that take place in control rooms, and we have deep, real-world experience in all three.

#1: The “room is simply dated” scenario

There are many reasons why a company would choose to update an existing control room rather than invest in a new one. For one thing, there is not a lot of new building going on in the US because of the constraints of government regulations. So companies are forced to work with what they’ve got, which is often dated and dilapidated technology in a abysmal bunker-style building. Though it may seem counterintuitive, this actually presents a tremendous opportunity. A revised interior takes advantage of best practices in lighting, acoustics, console design and ISO 11064 ergonomics, fatigue management and other safety features of up-to-date control room design specifications. The data shows that these types of modern control rooms have vastly improved track records of returning abnormal situations to normal, whereas dated control rooms increase the likelihood of an abnormal situation escalating to a catastrophic event.

Smart companies take the new configurations as an opportunity to change not only the consoles, but the company culture. Communication between operators, engineers and management is made more fluid. The result is a plant that hums along at capacity, and is much less prone to accident. Learn more about the 11 reasons why BAW is the industry leader in control room renovation.

#2: The “it’s not too late to change course” scenario

Oftentimes BAW is called in once ground has been broken on a new build. This scenario played out at plant in a remote location in Bangladesh, for a design of a new building for a global petrochemical company. A few educated souls on the client side had the foresight to realize that the control room design had serious flaws—in fact it had no ergonomic or human factor engineering elements at all. BAW was called in to take over before it was too late. We had an existing footprint that had to be utilized, so we needed to work within that box.

As always, BAW started with the operator and designed out from there. Where an EPC thinks “I have a plant to start up” BAW thinks “I have a safe and therefore profitable plant to start up, that includes not only architecture but ergonomic interior design and human factors.” This story has a happy ending because the petrochemical company is delighted with the end result.

Your crew has delivered design that successfully transformed and improved the look, feel and function of these spaces.

Project Manager

#3: The “scrap the whole thing and start over” scenario

This circumstance happens more often than anyone could possibly believe. An EPC is hired to build a plant, millions of dollars are spent, yet the end result is a control room that is unworkable. Operators are shoe-horned into consoles that don’t fit, screens produce so much glare that key information is obscured, crucial line-of-sight considerations are ignored, acoustics have the echo and clang of a high-school cafeteria. Morale tanks, the client realizes the building is unworkable, the lights are never turned on and the whole thing heads for litigation. BAW has been called in on many an occasion to preside over a renovation to make an otherwise unworkable control room functional and safe.

A real-life variation on this scenario that BAW was also called in to fix was a control room in an oil sands production plant in Alberta, Canada. When the finished product was delivered there were concerns about safety. The union workers got involved, pronounced it a “hostile work environment” and organized a work stoppage! Unfortunately this is not an isolated instance. Given the lack of flexibility on how to execute the renovation of this particular control room, BAW was forced to gracefully decline the renovation work.

If they didn’t do it right the first time, at least do it right the second.

The stakes are high. You need a control room that combines best practices in architecture, interior design and human factors. You need BAW on your control room renovation project. Learn more about why BAW Architecture is the leader in 24/7 mission-critical control building design, or contact us to start a conversation.

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