Principles of equipment layout
all equipment would be placed in the optimum location for its
purpose. This would depend on the user's characteristics, such
as their size, and their movement, vision and hearing
capabilities. Equipment should be located in the optimum (best) space, according to some criterion of use,
such as convenience, accuracy, speed or strength to be applied.
Workplace layout can be considered in terms of the optimum, and
the overall dimensions or space. Optimum dimensions define the most desirable space for the location of equipment
- highest priority equipment should be placed here. Overall dimensions define the acceptable, but not necessarily the most desirable, dimensions or
space - less important equipment, for example, that used periodically during normal operations, should be placed
within this region. The overall space will always include, and generally be larger than, the space defined by the optimum dimensions. Both sets of dimensions are determined
by using anthropometric data of
the user population (see the anthropometry
topic for more information). Unfortunately,
it is not often possible to place all equipment in its optimum
position due to lack of space. A large display may need to be
positioned away from you in order for you to see it all
clearly, but its associated control may need to be positioned
close to you for a fast response. In this case, you must
set priorities and make compromises. Several other principles
can help you to do this, and these are usually applied in the
following descending order:
Important equipment should be placed in convenient locations.
'Importance' is determined by how critical a piece of equipment
is in terms of achieving the task or goals of the system. Emergency
equipment should be placed in readily accessible positions
(somewhere within the overall workspace), but not necessarily in
the optimum workspace.
Frequency of use principle
Frequently used equipment should be placed in convenient
locations, close to or preferably, in front of you.
Sequence of use principle
Equipment should be arranged to take advantage of any sequences
or patterns of use that occur during a task. If a number of
controls are normally operated in a particular sequence, then
they and their corresponding displays should be arranged on the
panel in that order, from left to right, or from top to bottom.
Thinking time is reduced as you don't have to remember a
particular order of actions, and movement is reduced as related
equipment will be located close to each other.
Equipment should be grouped according to its function. For
example, equipment that is related to a particular task, such as
temperature displays and temperature controls should be grouped
together. This grouping can be highlighted by the use of colour,
labelling, demarcation lines or simply by placing groups of
items in rows. Look on your keyboard - text keys, numeric keys,
and cursor control keys are all positioned together in groups.
Note: In practice, these principles cannot always be applied.
In these cases, you should assess any risks to ensure that tasks can be performed with
minimal risk to the user, equipment or others people.