Evosite Control Rooms is an American manufacturer for 24/7 control rooms located in Houston, Texas. The company was founded in 2003 by company President Steve Will and two business partners. Their intent was to provide for the needs of local industrial plants along the Gulf Coast but they quickly grew to include projects across all of North America.
The company is best known for its Purpose-built operator consoles and 24/7 seating (essential products it has offered since its inception). Evosite concentrates its attention primarily on industrial settings that involve either products flowing through a pipeline or processing plants with a great degree of interaction and communication between board operators such as Refineries or Pipeline Control Centers.
Evosite initially acted as a re-seller of products in its early years. As Will recalls, the company was focused solely on providing “that one [particular] piece of furniture” in a control room. That goal required involvement from new designers, project managers and a production staff, which in turn caused the small firm’s overhead to rise significantly. Will believed strongly that the future of Evosite was in manufacturing its own products. The partners left shortly thereafter and today Evosite does manufacture products and has a cohesive brand.
“In order to be taken seriously among larger, global competitors,” Will observed at that time, “we needed to manufacture our own equipment.” He remembers the period of 2009 to 2011 as a difficult one because of the challenges inherent in pursuing both goals at the same time; but somehow Evosite was able to effectively triple its business in those years and has continued on an upward trend ever since, increasing its net worth significantly.
Evosite offers its services primarily to five different industries: Public Utilities, Power Generation & Transmission, Pipeline, Petrochemical, and Refining. It has also successfully completed a number of projects for traffic management, network operations, the U.S. military and Air Traffic Control sites. It seems that industrial facilities appreciate Evosite’s personal approach best because those involve interactive positions of a very critical nature and frequently include a human factor study. The company is one of the few in the country to take this approach.
“Everybody knows that ‘Human Factors’ are important when designing control rooms,” says Will. “We take it a step further by designing ‘Operator Centered’ control rooms and make Situation Awareness the top priority in all the design steps.” These include:
•Evaluate operator workload and staffing.
•Address all aspects of alarm management.
•Develop an HMI display standard and style guide.
•Assess the best possible screen layout to display graphics and other information.
•Comply with industry standards and best practices such as ISO 11064.
“As we work through our steps, a conceptual design of the control room starts to take shape. The result addresses all the operators and all the risks associated with fatigue, abnormal situations, predictability, ergonomics, performance and behavior.”
Will further explains that every control room is different. “We’ve never done two completely alike.” A lot of design and engineering goes into every one of them – whether it’s an upgrade to an existing facility or a new centralized control room.
He defines the company’s strengths as its ability to listen closely to its customers, offer tailored solutions, and deliver excellent service over the life of a control center. These fundamentals have given Evosite a major advantage in its chosen markets and the company is well-regarded for its efforts as a result.
The evolution of an industry
In recent years, Project Managers have asked the company to add other control room solutions to the roster of Evosite products they purchase. Organizations are looking for ways to reduce the number of vendors on a given project, which saves time and improves communications and the end result. End users also want to keep up with Best in Class options to retain their valuable operations team and attract those who may spend their 12-hour shifts in outdated control rooms.
The Evosite team is very pleased with their partnerships and their ability to provide complete solutions for all aspects of a control room – from circadian lighting (light that emits a low percentage of blue light that positively affects melatonin in the brain) to integrated technology and even access flooring for easy cable management. Evosite will continue to develop innovative solutions in its field and will strive to deliver value to clients throughout the entire life cycle of its control rooms. As Will describes the company’s current mission, “We now provide the environment rather than [simply] making consoles.”
Will describes the employees of Evosite as a very tight-knit group. A key portion of the team is dedicated to delivering “Life Cycle Services” and proactively visits clients after the completion of a control room to inspect and ensure ongoing reliability and customer satisfaction. Often, this can include bringing along one or more partners to integrate reliable, proven technology, acoustical elements, lighting, and ergonomic solutions. This program aligns with the company’s philosophy that a control room is not only for those who work there today but also for those employees who will be coming over the next decade.
Evosite sees its value as delivering “well thought-out solutions” as compared to off-the-shelf products, with a key buzzword being “situational awareness.” Will explains: “Whether you’re a pipeline controller or board operator, you’re bound to experience hours of boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror… [it’s a] 24/7 operation. Management appreciates that human factors are critical… and the faster these people respond to abnormal situations, the quicker, safer and more profitable their business is.”
Will observes that industrial control rooms are in a state of transition. In the 1980s, these plants were run by pneumatics, analog processing, and custom-made panel boards – “Flipping switches to make things happen.” With the advent of CRTs (cathode-ray tubes) and flat panel displays, technology is now such that interaction is done entirely through a process control system or a SCADA system depending on the application. Given the greater interest in health and safety, the importance of individual operators is far more specific than 30 years ago. Ultimately, Evosite’s customers’ focus must involve profitability, which a well-designed control room can help achieve.
Currently, the biggest internal challenge for Evosite is finding people who appreciate the complexity and longevity of their clients’ environments. Evosite is focused on bringing its client companies into the top quartile range. Will says, “Before our clients can achieve those results, we must also deliver top quartile performance. This industry is strong and growing despite the challenges of evolving technology in a man-machine business. We remain very positive on the future of our business.”