Nuclear power plants are operated from a control room which is designed to help to maintain high standards of safety. To provide a functional work environment, the control bodies of the facility need to follow existing international rules. For instance, ISO 11064-2013, or “Ergonomic design of control centers,” which is consistently updated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
This refers to important aspects of design, such as layout, lighting, colors, operator console, computer screen, furniture, and materials. Balancing comfort and functionality, a nuclear power plant control room design approach is human-centered.
Nuclear power plant control rooms are designed by specific organizations. One of the best-known is Yokogawa Electric Corporation. They take into account all aspects of the work environment, such as operator comfort, ergonomics, safety, functionality, ease of communication, automation of systems, and business policy to ensure effective functioning of a nuclear plant.
Key Control Room Features
Most designs include a combination of vertical control displays and operating consoles. So operators can constantly manage all the processes and act accordingly to the situation. Equipment indications and controls are systematically organized.
Alarm indicators in the form of small windows with text and alarm sounds are called annunciators. Usually they are placed on the upper boards, or at the top part of the control board. This design increases visibility and makes an immediate response possible.
The nuclear plant computer is also used to provide alarms alerting the operators to any problems. Using visual high-density displays with a 35° viewing angle is the key element to ensure a high-quality interface between the men and the machines. Also, large screens display a lot of information at once to increase the operator’s awareness.
Control rooms are different in size: from about 50 x 50 feet to 50 x 100 feet. At times, two nuclear units are controlled from a common control room.
A modern nuclear power plant control room design employs modular segments, divided according to specific systems within the power plant, such as a main-control workstation, electrical systems, auxiliary systems, etc. Each work unit is operated and supervised by seated workers who specialize in their defined sector. A modern approach is effective and innovated, especially in times of malfunction or partial shut-down of a nuclear plant.
Control Room Furniture
Health, safety, and employee productivity are the basic aspects of a command center furniture design. Specialized furniture is adequately comfortable and employee-centered to maintain a harmonious working atmosphere. To increase efficiency and quality of services, any administration of a nuclear plant should provide a control room with quality consoles and chairs.
Ergonomic standards are taken into consideration to create control room consoles which allow the operator to have immediate visual access to the screens set in the near proximity and on distant walls at same time.
Nuclear power plant control room chairs feature a good recline function with a comfortable padded seat, armrests, and neck and head support. It’s all about well-being and maintaining the correct working position of every operator.
To keep a high level of comfort and create an optimal working environment within the operations unit, control room furniture design takes into account every detail, such as the color palette and texture of the desks, lighting, flooring, and air quality.
Without any doubt, modern control rooms significantly improve the safety of nuclear power plants.