Innovative Sustainable Control Centre Solutions

This is driven by demands to operate in a safe environment where efficiency and effectiveness can reduce risk and improve the uptime of the facility. Important factors include the removal of staff from blast areas within the factory, consolidation of operational and management staff into a central 'nerve centre' and alignment with corporate identity. Approximately 20% of the projects include new buildings, but the bulk of these projects are refurbishment of existing facilities; many of these industrial facilities were built in the 1960's and 70's with very little focus on sustainability. This in itself provides major challenges but also offers opportunities to introduce various levels of sustainability into the buildings during the refurbishment.

Oculus Operational Innovations (Pty) Ltd is a specialised designer and turnkey provider of such Operational facilities and Control rooms, having successfully completed several projects over a number of years. The projects include the complete spectrum of services and supply, from ergonomic studies, site surveys, gap analysis, conceptual design, detail design, construction, installation and project management.

A very important aspect which is considered during the design of operational facilities by Oculus is the human factor. The operations personnel must at all times be alert and aware of possible risk within the process they control. By improving their alertness, the occurrence of major catastrophic events can be reduced and sometimes completely avoided. The impact of such events on the environment can have long lasting effects. Oculus aims to improve the indoor environmental quality and ergonomic circumstances to an extent where the operations personnel will at all times be focused on their mission critical tasks.

A key operational goal within Oculus is to incorporate Green Building design and sustainability principles into the industrial building environment. Oculus introduces Sustainability Best Practices into their control room design process and will thereby guide the projects to deliver a greener solution for operational facilities. The applications range from complex Oil refineries, Power stations, simple manufacturing processes to editing, broadcasting and security control facilities.

Oculus provides the complete design of the operational facilities and manages the process with its own in-house design team consisting of design engineers, architectural technologists, interior designers and CAD operators. The latest software design tools in both 2D and 3D are utilised to provide designs which are innovative, sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing.

Dedicated control consoles and desks are supplied for the control room solutions. Oculus has partnered with TBC Consoles to provide modern console technology to the industry. TBC's philosophy is one of 'REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE', whereby TBC recycles all of the scrap aluminium from the manufacturing process and vendors recycle the scrap steel components.

With respect to the wood components, the products are:

  • Environmentally Preferable Products (EPP) preferable through use of recycled/recovered wood fibre and adherence to emission standards lower than government regulations.
  • CARB-compliant, meeting stringent Formaldehyde Regulations.
  • Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certified. • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) have been eliminated from the finishing.
  • Designed with linoleum, which is produced from renewable materials.

The Oculus team has years of experience in the Automation industrial engineering industry as well as in the Interior and Architectural Design fields. This expertise is carried through into innovative solutions to provide industry with operational facilities which can lead to operational excellence and reduction of risk. The design and execution methodology is based on the International Standard ISO 11064; this ensures that all important aspects for the operation of a modern effective control room are considered.
The Oculus approach focus on critical areas:

  • Defining the needs of the organisation
  • Determining the optimum space utilisation
  • Aligning operating procedures with the latest technology
  • Improvement of the operator's ability to detect and respond to abnormal situations
  • Designing a solution which aligns with best practices
  • Management and delivery of the final project as designed and specified

Oculus specific areas of expertise include:

  • Ergonomics & Human factor engineering
  • Space Utilisation
  • Lighting design
  • Interior design
  • Electrical Reticulation design
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning
  • Material and Finishes selection
  • Specialised flooring
  • Acoustic panels
  • Specialised ceilings
  • Dedicated operator consoles, improving operation efficiency and alertness.
  • Project and Site Management

Oculus is a subsidiary of the Ilitha Group which was established in 2003 with the merger of three companies. The group incorporates other businesses focused on industrial projects, air emission abatement solutions and implementation of renewable energy projects.

Oculus is committed to the Black Empowerment targets set by the South African government and improving the BBBEE scorecard is actively pursued. An important aspect of Empowerment is the continuous skills development of resources. The training and development targets in the Oculus business strategy are developing these skills not only in engineering and design but also in sustainability and green building design.

Earthworks Magazine, Issue Five, December 2011