In the past decade, changing operational and business needs have instigated interesting developments in HMI technology. Now, it’s becoming more common to see evolved forms of HMI such as high-performance HMIs, touch screens, and mobile devices, along with more traditional models. These modernized interfaces are creating more opportunities for equipment interaction and analysis.
Operators and users are increasingly moving toward high-performance HMI, a method of HMI design that helps ensure fast, effective interaction. By only drawing attention to the most necessary or critical indicators on the interface, this design technique helps the viewer to see and respond to problems more efficiently, as well as make better-informed decisions. Indicators on high-performance HMI are simple, clean, and purposely cleared of any extraneous graphics or controls. Other design elements, like color, size, and placement, are used with discretion to optimize the user experience. Learn more about designing high-performance HMIs here.
Touch Screens and Mobile Devices
Touch screens and mobile HMI are two examples of technological advances that have emerged with the advent of smartphones. Instead of buttons and switches, modernized HMIs allow operators to tap or touch the physical screen to access controls. Touch screens are especially important when used with mobile HMI, which is either deployed through web-based HMI/SCADA or via an application. Mobile HMI offers a variety of advantages to operators, including instant access to HMI information and remote monitoring.
Mobile-friendly remote monitoring allows greater flexibility and accessibility for operators and managers alike. With this feature, an offsite control system engineer can, for example, confirm the temperature of a warehouse on a portable device, eliminating the need for onsite supervision after working hours. Soon, checking in on a process on your factory floor while being miles away from the facility won’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.
Edge-of-Network and Cloud HMIs
Edge-of-network HMIs are also in high demand because they allow operators to access data and visualization from field devices. Additionally, it is becoming more common to send data from local HMIs to the cloud, where it can be accessed and analyzed remotely, while keeping control capabilities local.
Peering into the Future of HMI
On the horizon, leading engineers are even exploring ways to implement Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to visualize manufacturing functions.
As data takes on an increasingly essential role in manufacturing, the future looks very bright for HMI. This technology may have come a long way, but its potential for growth remains virtually limitless.