Bridge the gap between operations & engineering
Bridge the gap between operations & engineering


The standard ‘ISO 8468:  Ship’s bridge layout and associated equipment — Requirements and guidelines’ provides an excellent starting point for a Human Factors based bridge design approach. However, this document has some limitations:

  • ISO 8468 is developed with a conventional cargo ship in mind with an aft-ship bridge configuration. Many cargo vessels and special purpose ships have a mid-ship or front-ship bridge arrangement.
  • ISO 8468 is based on a multiple operator bridge team concept, including a helmsman. Many modern ships, even the large ones, are designed for one or two man operation, combining all navigation, control, monitoring and watch tasks in one compact work area, without the assistance of a separate helmsman.
  • ISO 8468 does not cover stationary vessels and DP ships with thruster based propulsion systems.

For ships as mentioned above, additional ergonomic design considerations have to be taken into account to achieve an optimal arrangement. A Human Factors based approach suggests to follow the design steps below:

  • Tasks analysis
  • Field-of-vision study (in 3D)
  • Definition of operational modes (transit, mooring, etcetera) and an operator task allocation plan for each of these modes. Do not forget the pilot: he is a temporarily bridge team member too.
  • Workplace arrangement and global dimensioning, also in 3D.
  • Bridge contour design and window arrangement, including window wash platforms.
  • Arrangement of other functional areas, like GMDSS, chart table, pantry, toilet, staircase and storage.
  • Detailed design of floor mounted consoles and overhead consoles.
  • Detailed design of control panels, including instrumentation arrangement.
  • Design of a nautical CCTV system to extend and improve visibility

The quality of an ergonomic bridge design can have a large impact on the situational awareness of the navigating officers, and as a result, on the vessels controllability and safety.
When the above design approach is started early in the Basic Design phase, it is often possible to optimize size and position of view-blocking structural elements as well, like pillars, vents, exhaust pipes and cable ducts.

For more information on ergonomic ship bridge design, contact ErgoS HFE.

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