I’ve written extensively on the importance of dispatch furniture design, performance and the need for durability. For sure, high quality professional dispatch consoles are relatively expensive compared to office furniture and other types of control room furniture. Dispatch workstations come in all flavors and are as different as they are similar, but nonetheless cost more because of the unique demands placed on this type of furniture. Dispatchers are under constant pressure to perform flawlessly on a 24 by 7 basis week after week, month after month. This reality calls for workstations with all of the ergonomic features available to ensure operator comfort, job satisfaction and longevity. This also means that the typical dispatch workstation costs more than alternatives because it’s typically custom made to order and not mass produced like office furniture. I’m emphasizing the importance of price because for the uninitiated, a nicely equipped dispatch workstation is expensive. If you’re considering buying the latest and greatest dispatch furniture, get ready for what some people refer to as “sticker shock”. That said, a sound investment in top quality dispatch furniture will repay itself many times over.
Now that I’ve got the subject of pricing out of the way, let’s look at specifics that will help you make the right decision for your dispatch application and budget.
Let’s start with the obvious; dispatchers work shifts and should be comfortable with fully adjustable furniture and accessories. Dispatch workstations should be versatile enough for both sitting and standing for long periods of time.
Characteristics of modern dispatch furniture are:
- Panels: These help to create separation between dispatchers that not only enable the dispatchers to work independently, but help with their concentration. Panels can be designed to reduce, or keep noise out. Wiring will run internally through enclosures and out of sight keeping the desk top and its surroundings clutter-free.
- Storage: Enclosures for binders, CPUs and office materials vary in type and size. They can be free standing, or integrated into the furniture. Drawer pedestals are popular as are ventilated CPU cabinets with pull out trays for easy access to the equipment for installation and service. The placement and enclosure of important cables and equipment in an organized manner are key to efficient operations.
- Accessories: These small components play a large role in dispatcher convenience and comfort. For example, an ergonomic lift for sit to stand can help operators of different heights operate the system with ease. Look for other accessories like adjustable task lights, phone mounts, binder trays and integrated data hubs.
- Monitors: Adjustable monitor arms are an indispensable feature of modern dispatch furniture. Mounting monitors at adjustable angles makes them compatible with dispatchers of different heights and eye sight. Being able to adjust the monitor(s) to an optimal distance avoids eye strain and the leaning forward that places undue pressure on the upper body.
Dependent on your application, there are a variety of dispatch furniture types and designs that either lift separately operated work surfaces, or lift the entire console. Choose the design that best fits your application. For example, some dispatchers prefer deeper workstations or cockpit style in order to have all of their working tools at their fingertips. Others like to have the keyboard and mouse on a separate work surface from the monitors. The possibilities are only limited to your preferences and budget. However, when evaluating dispatch furniture, try to avoid pre-fabricated metal work stations that are no more than modified office furniture and likely more expensive than custom made workstations. Pre-fabricated dispatch furniture limits design options while customized workstations are a smarter solution. And, custom manufacturing doesn’t necessarily mean higher price. In truth, made to order workstations can be attractively priced and designed to meet your budget.
A dispatch center is work-intensive making your workstations that much more susceptible to scratches, chipping and stripping away of the laminate surfaces. The only solution is high quality materials that support weight and seal all surfaces. The use of high quality laminate designed for intensive use is especially important and a vacuum formed laminate like Americon offers is even better because it does not have vulnerable points that conventional laminates have. This means Americon dispatch workstations will last longer than furniture surfaced with conventional laminates.
I should close with simply saying that when it comes to quality dispatch furniture, you pretty much get what you pay for, so shop wisely. I invite you to contact me by email or at 707.539.3321 regarding options for your dispatch center. For more information, please go to the dispatch furniture page and read my previous blog postings on dispatch furniture design, performance and application.
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