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The City of Bloomington, Minnesota 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 hours a day, 365 days a year and is staffed around the clock by operators who monitor and control the inflow of water to the reservoirs and pumping into the 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 pumps and valves that control the water pipes supplying the reservoir as well. Every aspect of plant operations are 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.

Operators also test the water throughout the treatment process – as it enters the distribution systems and by taking samples from locations around the city. 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. 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.

The City chose an ergonomic control room console from the Winsted Corporation that provides enough workspace for several operators to work simultaneously. Winsed’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 3D design capabilities, comprehensive parts lists, automatic dimensioning, the ability to create specification sheets, and can export AutoCAD DWG files for 2D and 3D application.

Ketchmark and the operators designed an L-shaped Insight console featuring two 30-inch and three 24-inch monitors, which operators use to monitor and analyze plant processes, 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 also included a new data acquisition and retrieval tool (DART), which enabled the plant to eliminate volumes of paperwork and physical manuals that took up valuable space in the small control room by migrating everything to an easily accessible digital system. The CPUs for the SCADA and DART systems are stored in the base of the console, which made it possible to add more CPUs and still free up valuable 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 that are 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.”

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 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 is used by operators working on 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.”