CREON works for a plethora of different companies and institutions. We go places you can’t enter without permission. We sometimes refer to this as ‘the invisible world’. Yet it is often these workstations that constitute the core of a company which makes them super interesting. Processes are monitored, action is taken in critical situations and important decisions are taken in the control rooms. CREON visited AEB in Amsterdam to find out more about raw material resource recovery, waste processing, energy generation as well as to take a look at the heart of the company, its control room. The latter was in need of modernisation and naturally CREON took care of that.
Waste as an energy source
How do you generate energy from waste? Sander van Tol, Deputy Team Leader at AEB’s control room, knows all about the subject. Together with his team he monitors the incineration process from the waste in the bunker right the way through to the flue gases leaving the chimney. “An incineration line consists of a boiler filled with water. High-pressure steam is formed due to the high temperatures. The flue gases from the boiler are fed to the chimney through the flue gas scrubber. The latter ensures we meet the emissions requirements. The high-pressure steam generated by the six combustion boilers helps drive three steam turbines. Each turbine powers a single generator that supplies electricity to the national grid. Alongside producing electricity, we also provide district heating in Amsterdam.” The plant processes approx. 1.3 million tons of waste consisting of both household and commercial waste, annually. This means around 180 tons of waste per hour (!) across six incineration lines. The energy generation process meets high emissions requirements and continues night and day.
Updating the control room
The control room is AEB’s nerve centre. Rugged men and women in Hi-Viz vests and blue uniforms seated behind a multitude of monitors. Other team members do the rounds in the plant. The operators view a schematic representation of the waste processing process on their monitors. Team members adjust the process where necessary as indicated by the operator in the control room. The incineration in the ovens can be monitored on a few other screens. It seems like gobbledygook to the layman, but AEB’s staff know exactly what is going on. The systems that monitor the system needed an update. The old desks didn’t offer sufficient space to install larger, newer monitors and no longer meet current ergonomic requirements. “The workstations need new desks to be able to renew the system. We can install more, larger monitors on the new desks and improve lines of sight,” explains project manager Karin de Fost. She wrote the design specifications for this assignment and approached three parties, including CREON, to draw up a proposal based on it. The detailed design specifications include the preconditions for colour and materials used, the number and type of monitors and the cabling and connections wishes.
The control room is manned 24/7. Karin elucidates: “Throughout the day, different people sit at the same desks which make ergonomics and comfort important points for improvement. The workstations should be flexible, for example, the distance between the operator and the monitors should be adjustable. The height of the work surface should also be variable. The desks must be capable of being modified to suit the individual end user’s wishes, but they should also look appealing, so people enjoy coming in to work. Naturally, the latter is subject to trends, but the bigger the ‘Wow effect’, the better it is. This stimulates. An increasing number of young people are being recruited and they are more critical of their working environment. We would love to remain an appealing employer.”
From wish to reality
Modernising and restructuring the control room takes a lot of doing. Multiple EB departments will be involved in making the right decisions. However, ultimately the focus are the end users. This is why three end users were queried as to their wishes with regard to control room layout and furnishing. They visited CREON’s showroom beforehand and helped make decisions during the design phase. Convinced by the quality, presentation, a clear-cut quote with 3D designs and the option of customisation and service, AEB decided to grant the job to CREON. Due to time pressures at AEB, they wanted to be kept up to date with the planning, the design phase, the production process and the definitive installation of the furniture by CREON.
Boyd van Woudenberg is an HMI engineer. He primarily works on designing the system that will run on the new computers. “Mindful of the future, we need more screens to monitor the entire incineration and energy generation process. The new monitors are bigger and have a different aspect ratio than the current ones. We have immediately incorporated this into the structuring of the new workstations.”
Just as beautiful as the design
Four brand new Split desks, arranged in a semi-circle, have been set up at the front of the control room. Every workstation has 10 monitors. As if that was not enough, there is a column behind every desk with two larger overview monitors. The operators can also adjust the height of these monitors. Behind them a large acoustic wall has been installed that features a further 11 CCTV monitors. The CREON technicians have put the finishing touches to aligning the new monitors and have wiped down the desks. The workstations will immediately be taken into operation as soon as the technicians have left. The operators inspect their new workplace in wonder, some even taking photographs. “It really turned out beautiful!”, one of them exclaims enthusiastically. “I’d love this set-up at home. Though it wouldn’t fit the living room.”
The CREON provided 3D renders of the renewed control room are on the wall in Karin’s office. “It’s truly incredible: the end results are exactly the same as the 3D designs!” Karin, Sander and Boyd experienced contact with CREON as very pleasant and professional. “The communication was fine, everything was completed before the deadline and the end result meets all wishes and requirements. CREON is completely in control and knows it’s stuff,” says Boyd finally. “And it even looks good!”