In today’s call center and control room environments, human engineering factors (Ergonomics) dictate that the individual be in fingertip control of many functions to minimize task interruptions. This segment is dedicated to the development of our individual environmental management system that makes the user comfortable and more efficient while performing their daily tasks. It wasn’t that long ago that it was very common to see a space heater under a desk and a fan on the work surface to move stagnant air and eliminate the effects of a stuffy overcrowded room. Obviously, there are a number of problems and safety issues with these scenarios. Space heaters are dangerous and have been deemed unacceptable for these environments and desk fans take up precious usable space. The alternative that had been developed many years ago was a personal environmental system that was manufactured by Johnson Controls, Inc. which became a standard product specified for used in dispatch and call centers. Americon among others supplied this system to its clients but was never happy with its bulkiness and limited capabilities. This was a very cumbersome system with a lot of flexible duct work that limited legroom and CPU storage under the workstation. The fan unit was mounted the modesty and was extremely noisy. The duct work brought air to permanently affixed tower registers that were mounted through the desktop and too up room on the work surface.
The registers took up a lot of desk space and the duct work limited the vertical travel needed for some sit/stand systems. The Johnson Controls system was limited to longer and deeper desks which normally aren’t the norm for call centers. The only adjustment in this obsolete system was fan speed control and it had no heating capabilities.
In order to replace the space heater, a separate radiant heat panel with a simple on/off switch was available from a number of sources to warmed the air underneath the desk. Control of the blower fan and task lights was achieved using separate slide controls that needed to be placed somewhere in proximity of the user.
Eventually Johnson controls discontinued this outdated paradigm which opened the door for us to fill the void with a new and improved product which allows the end-user to manage all of the arms-length tools needed when responding to callers.
Americon approached this out of date paradigm by going to the technologies perfected in the automotive industry. What better place to draw on than those who have tackled similar problems with successful solutions. It was obvious that we needed to get rid of all of the under-counter duct work that impaired legroom. Secondly, we needed a fan driven system that regulated heat for warming legs and feet and cooling above and the air flow above the work surface just like an automobile. We also needed to get rid of the separate control that took up workspace.
The first prototype we developed we dubbed the PES-1000. The system console that we designed provides both filtered air flow in a turret and forced air heat that can be adjusted on the fly. Directional air is provided at varying levels over a broad CFM range via two turret-mounted nozzles above the work surface and two ports below. The user can personalize the intensity of the flow, temperature and direction as needed using the touch panel centered in the turret’s face. Additionally, the footprint of the unit is small enough to work with numerous desk sizes.
Our final product we call the “Personal Workspace Manager”, the PWM-1000. We eliminated the programmable touch screen that included control all functions including peripherals like lighting and sit/stand lifts. Our design decision to eliminate the touch screen was driven purely by our feeling that it may make the PWM too expensive for our customers to justify. The plus is that it did allowed us to centralize air flow into a single adjustable vent. Since there has always been a need to use a laptop, plug in headsets, thumb drives, keyboards and mice, we designed into the turret a full blown data hub, power receptacles and USB3 ports. The obvious result was that this eliminated the need to get down on the floor to plug things into computers. An interchangeable panel on the right side of the turret allows us to add options like lift controls and/or a lighting dimmer.
We made the installation simple by creating a PWM-1000 as a drop-in appliance that could be installed into any desk using rudimentary tools. Our final change was to incorporate a full 15 AMP power strip into the lower chassis to power computers and other peripherals. All in all, the new design addresses all of the needs of dispatchers and calltakers to be in arms length control of all tools without distraction when responding to incoming calls.