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How is technology changing control room operations?

To conclude our Control Room Operations In‑Depth Focus, we asked a number of experts about the relationship between control room operations and technology.

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Participants:

Daniel Prax, Marketing Communications Manager, Black BoxMatthias Laubner, Field Application Engineer Eastern & Northern Europe, MoxaAlan Harris, Field Application Engineer, Moxa

How is technology changing control room operations? Furthermore, how do operators keep up with change, and how do suppliers continue to innovate in this space?

Prax: Control room operators today have to be able to monitor and process an ever-growing amount of digital information and visuals originating from both local and remote sources. Control room technology should make it as easy and intuitive as possible for operators to prioritise information and respond immediately. IP-based AV and KVM signal transmission technology helps to connect multiple critical nodes in control rooms such as remote (virtual) servers, operator workstations, video wall controllers, touchscreen control systems and many more, and makes it easier to tailor multi-system solutions running on the same network and talking the same ‘language’. When multiple technologies are integrated into an IP-based control room connectivity solution, it is easier and faster for controllers to switch between multiple desktops, share critical visuals on a common video wall and have the system assist with timely responses to critical events. With increasing video resolutions (4K and beyond) and server virtualisation, network bandwidth is becoming a critical factor for efficient operations, demanding better compression methods, intelligent management of signal distribution networks, and efficient connectivity to – and sharing of – virtualised server resources. Suppliers are challenged to develop scalable and future-proof systems that provide support for future interfaces and standards, intuitive user interfaces, and presets for flexible control room configurations (e.g. night vs. day shift configurations).

Laubner and Harris: In the same way that automation has already changed many sectors successfully, it has now also entered the control centre sector. Today, we see that there is less reliance on interpreting presented data, though ‘keeping an eye’ on it to some degree is still an important monitoring function. Therefore, we see our role as more important than ever in providing reliable and customer-oriented solutions to react to the increasing possible points of nefarious contact. To cover this need, Moxa has products, encompassing firewalls and other security features, to aid the system integrator in meeting the desired solution. By hiding repetitive routines, providing reliable and fast data transport as well as development of managed algorithms, modern systems can present useful information in HMIs in an understandable and manageable way. This must all be considered when developing new products, keeping in mind how they will be used by system designers: error checking every possible outcome and displaying information – as well as controlling operations in expected ways and formats.

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