Quality Control and Cyclotron Operator’s Console

A control room is quite common in many Cyclotron Facilities.  For older machines, this made sense as electronics and computers tended to be large and control consoles could easily take up an entire desk by itself.  Many older machines besides having extensive power supply rooms needed multiple 19” racks for local control of the machine and its subsystems. 

However, with modern machines and miniaturized or distributed PLC systems, typically only a workstation or a PC is needed for control and operations.  In the case of the IBA Cyclone 18® a small client communicates with the server in the power supply room and drives dual monitors.  These can be seen in the middle of the operator’s desk.  From a process flow point of view and based on clinical and research production experience, the designers decided that a separate control room is not conducive to good communications especially during radioisotope and radiopharmaceutical deliveries. Those are times when communications is critical to safety and having extensive windows, glass walls, and having the machine operator right in the middle of all of the “action” is critical to smooth operations. 

Further design criteria for this space were: duplication of services/activities/spaces, adequate equipment with backups, appropriate ability to perform environmental monitoring of cleanrooms, and finally overall safety with respect to radioactivity, chemicals, drug handling, and avoidance of physical dangers.  These goals have been achieved by using a highly symmetric design with identical workspaces for analytical equipment, backup and duplicated refrigerators, freezers, incubators, DI water systems, etc.  Large glass windows allow everyone to see each other for safety reasons.  This is in addition to a multi-channel intercom system and a CCTV system of 13 cameras that cover the entire facility.  An older, Vidicom (to avoid neutron damage) based CCTV camera is in the vault with displays directly outside the vault and in the QC area.  A large, stainless steel cladtable top of about 40 square feet will be dedicated to pharmacy usage. 

For those who have previously worked in Cyclotron Facilities, you are well aware of how the day can pass by without seeing other people or even sunlight.  While it may seem silly, coming to work at 4 am and leaving at 4 pm on a winter’s day can get to be a little depressing.  The designers, especially the architect, has had a lot of experience with these situations and the Facility has liberally used glass windows and store-front window designs to make the staff feel more comfortable thus enhancing focus, safety, and efficiency.  For those of us who work in this facility, it is not like working in a “fish bowl” but rather the facility enhances communication both verbal and non-verbal and provides for a bright, pleasant work environment.  While windows to the outside would have been nice, being in the subbasement of a hospital precludes that.