Room with a View: City Improves Functionality, Ergonomics of Water Treatment Plant Control Room

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A ergonomic control room console from the Winsted Corporation that provides enough workspace for several operators to work simultaneously.
A ergonomic control room console from the Winsted Corporation that provides enough workspace for several operators to work simultaneously.

The city of Bloomington, Minn., covers 38 square miles in the heart of the Twin Cities and is home to more than 85,000 residents. Water service for this bustling metropolitan community, which also includes well-known businesses such as the Mall of America, Health Partners and Toro®, is provided by the Sam H. Hobbs Water Treatment Plant.

The original plant was built in 1973 and remodeled in 2002 to meet increased demand. Today, the plant has the capacity to produce 14 million gallons of water each day.

The plant operates 24/7/365 and is staffed around the clock by state certified operators who monitor and control the treatment process, associated reservoirs and pumping stations supplying the 410 miles of distribution system by utilizing a state-of-the-art supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system.

The system allows plant operators to monitor and control the inflow of water to the reservoirs and pumping into the distribution system. Every aspect of plant operations is monitored from a control room at the plant. From there, operators communicate with maintenance staff in the field that investigate and address any alarms or concerns.

By taking samples from various locations around the city, operators run water quality tests on treatment plant processes. More than 85,000 tests are performed on the city's water annually, resulting in a water supply that consistently meets or exceeds all of the criteria established by federal and state regulations and guidelines.

Recently, the city upgraded the plant's control room to improve functionality and enhance ergonomics for its operators.

Bloomington, MN

One challenge to be addressed was the relatively small size of the control room. At any given time, two to three operators staff the control room, and the previous layout made it difficult for more than one operator to work comfortably at the console.

"We needed a solution that would give us more room, but the footprint of the control room could not be altered," said Scott Ketchmark, utility supervisor for the Sam H. Hobbs Water Treatment Plant.

Bloomington chose an ergonomic control room console from the Winsted Corporation that provides enough workspace for several operators to work simultaneously.

Winsted's Insight consoles provide flexible monitor display options, smart equipment and cable management, and easy access to data/power, making it possible to maximize the amount of workspace for operators.

"When we started researching new consoles online, ergonomics and adjustability were our primary focus," said Ketchmark. "The flexibility of the Winsted console design allowed us to mount more monitors to the console and put larger monitors on the wall without sacrificing operator comfort."

Ketchmark and his team used Winsted Equipment Layout Software (WELS) to design the console to meet their specific needs.

WELS is a standalone program that provides full 3-D design capabilities, comprehensive parts lists, automatic dimensioning, and the ability to create specification sheets and export AutoCAD DWG files for 2-D and 3-D applications.

Ketchmark and the operators designed an L-shaped Insight console featuring two 30-inch, three 24-inch and one 20-inch monitor, which operators use to monitor and analyze plant processes, well flow rates and system alarms.

Insight consoles feature Winsted's Versa-Trak monitor support system, which offered the necessary adjustability for multiple operators. Monitor viewing angles and sightlines are easily optimized based on personal needs.

The upgrade allowed the plant to expand use of its data acquisition and retrieval tool (DART), which enabled the migration of volumes of paperwork and physical manuals to an easily-accessible digital system, freeing up valuable space in the small control room.

The CPUs for the SCADA, DART and security systems are stored in the base of the console, which made it possible to add more CPUs and still free up space on the floor and desktop. Double-panel doors in the console base allow easy access to CPUs for maintenance.

The use of telephone trays and wireless mice and keyboards have reduced clutter and created more desktop workspace for operators. Data/power rails and a cable raceway built into the console have eliminated the mess of cables and wires that was problematic with the previous console solution.

"In a 24/7 control room environment like ours, comfort and durability are major concerns," said Ketchmark. "The Winsted console is very solidly built. We're especially pleased with the durability of the work surface edges, which is an area where we've had issues with wear before."

Winsted's Comfort Edge™ with Marmoleum work surface

The city selected Winsted's Comfort Edge™ with Marmoleum work surface, which features an extremely durable urethane edge molded to 1-1/8-inch medium density fiberboard. The ultraviolet (UV)-resistant urethane will not change color or deteriorate over time.

The control room upgrade also included a second single-station Encompass II console in the control room used by operators working with the maintenance management system, reporting and administrative tasks.

"Our operators are very pleased with the comfort and functionality of the new consoles," said Ketchmark. "There is so much more room for them to work, and viewing the monitors is much easier with the new console layout."

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