It is often the icon and landmark of any control room: the video wall is the first thing that catches the eye when you enter this space. However, is it an essential and inseparable element of the notion of the control and supervision room? For example, we were recently asked to assist an energy company in the definition of its new control room: during the project, certain members of the team did not hesitate to demand the abolition of the video wall; the debate was lively among the users and can be generalized to many other industries, administrations or service companies.
We will try to report on the arguments of both sides: for or against video wall?
Control room with video wall
- The multiplicity of sources: control and supervision rooms are integrating more and more information and, consequently, the choice of sources to be displayed on the video wall is becoming even more complex. This is easier to manage on individual workstations.
- The ever faster rotation of information: not only do we have to deal with more information, but the speed of processing is bound to increase for the many reasons : ever tighter supply chains, the demand for real time by service users, etc.
- Evolving needs: (business models, new organisational modes, associated processes, etc.) do not fit well with equipment that requires a-priori settings like the video wall.
- Individualisation: if there are several operators in a control room, it is to process different information; in these conditions, what is the use of having common information on a central focus?
- Cost: for an equivalent number of screens, a video wall costs more than individual workstations (with a very wide range, it is true, as the additional cost can be very high or low depending on the technical configuration)
- A much more collaborative mode: visually shared information naturally allows for increased collaboration among the operators in the room. In addition, the video wall also allows the integration of many more non-operators in the decision-making process (specialists, managers, etc.).
- A global view: it is the juxtaposition of the different sources that allows full awareness of the situation. The alternative to the video wall would be operator consoles with numerous screens that fragment the information.
- The new video wall solutions have become very flexible: This answers the first three objections of the CONs:
- the display scenarios are increasingly powerful. Not only can they be programmed with a click, but they can also be triggered by events (alarms, visual recognition, ….)
- the construction principles of the walls are now modular; whatever the technology (IP, video server), it is possible to resize the wall but also to create / delete new ones.
- Increasingly, video walls integrate CAD or VMS type technologies which pre-process the information and therefore eliminate the need for operator intervention.
In the end, in order to make a decision, we have to go back to the very essence of the control and monitoring room. To put it plainly, the control room is a tool that enables skills that share the same information to be brought together in the same place to make decisions in real time.
In this case, the decision was made by the PROs in the light of the previous definition. Indeed, after simulations of the different hypotheses, it became clear that if the video wall did not accelerate the taking into account of critical information (alarms, RSS feeds, etc. can be triggered on individual media: PC, smartphone, etc.), on the other hand, it allowed :
- faster uptake of collective decision-making
- a means of management control by focusing on selected content
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