What is Human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and why it’s a critical component of industrial automation systems


HMI: what it is and its crucial role in industrial automation

Human-machine interfaces (HMIs) have become crucial components of industrial automation systems, allowing operators to interactwith machines and control all the production processes.Industrial HMI, a specialized type of HMI designed specifically for industrial settings, is used to monitor and control a wide range of industrial processes, from machinery and equipment to various systems.

HMIs types and theyr application

Industrial HMI is anadvanced computerized interface that provides bothvisual and tactile feedback to operators. It typically features a touchscreen display along with physical buttons and knobs. The interface displays information about the status of the system, including temperature, pressure, flow rate, and other crucial parameters.

Industrial HMI typically comes in three types, including standalone, embedded, and web-based systems. Standalone HMIs are separate from the machine it controls and use a dedicated communication protocol to communicate with the controller. Embedded HMIs are built into the machine and are directly connected to the controller. Web-based HMIs are designed to be accessed remotely via a web browser or application.

HMI: functionalities and features

One of the critical features of Industrial HMI is its ability to withstand harsh and demanding industrial environments. Industrial HMI is engineered to be rugged and durable, designed with materials that cantolerate rough handling, extreme temperatures, dust, water, and vibration. Additionally, some models feature temperature control and cooling mechanisms to ensure reliability, even in high-temperature environments.

The functionality of Industrial HMI extends beyond the display of real-time system data. It allows operators tomanipulate and modify system parameters, reacting in real-time to changes in the system. For example, in a steel plant, Industrial HMI can be used to monitor and control the furnace temperature. The interface displays the current temperature, alerting the operator if it exceeds a predetermined threshold. The operator can then use the HMI to adjust the temperature of the furnace, ensuring that it operates safely and within appropriate parameters.

Industrial HMI can also be used for data logging and analysis, recording information such as temperature, pressure, and flow rate over time. This data can then be analyzed to identify trends and patterns in the system and optimize its performance, leading to increased efficiency and safety.

What features does the perfect HMI have?

Awell-designed HMI (Human Machine Interface)should have the following characteristics:

  • it should be compatible with major PLC brands and their protocols
  • it should be able to function in harsh environments
  • it should have high-quality graphics and a well-lit display
  • it should have ports for USB, Ethernet, and SD cards
  • it should be capable of logging data
  • it should have user-friendly software

Selecting the right HMI is crucial, as it should not only control the process but also be safe, reliable, cost-effective, and provide a bird’s eye view of the entire process. HMI’s are the primary point of contact between the user and the process, so they should be effortless to use and increase productivity.

Choosing a suitable HMI has a significant impact on the operator and the overall performance of the system. Considering the factors mentioned above will lead to a more informed decision. Opting for an HMI that is insufficient in power or features may ultimately result in greater expenses in the future and leave customers dissatisfied.

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