Process Control Technology Alert. Human Machine Interfaces in Industrial Automation The use of automation in industries has reduced machine-operator communication. This lack of interaction has made it difficult for the operator to identify the state of the machine and the steps to be followed to clear problems occurring in the industrial plant. In the modern environment where the processes are becoming complex and the requirements for plants are also increasing, it is necessary for the operator to have transparency and flexibility of operation. The typical condition monitoring system can be combined with the latest technologies that help in monitoring the status of equipment as well as in data processing and centralized resource management. The automated forms of processing have their advantages, which include improved operational efficiencies, increased data accuracy, integrity and security, time savings, and reduced manual entry costs. Furthermore, the feedback in automation helps in designing a system with selfcorrecting capacity. The area of automation has experienced key developments in recent years. Industrial automation has advantages that include optimization of manufacturing, improved productivity, quality, and operations, and reduction of waste and labor costs. On the other hand, industrial automation also has disadvantages that include high initial costs and unpredictable development costs.
The Human Machine Interface (HMI) provides a way to control, monitor, manage, and visualize the processes of a device. In HMI, the controls are graphically displayed on the screen and the machinery can be controlled by either using external buttons or a touchscreen. HMI can be defined as the interaction between the programmable logic controller system and the operator, and this interaction happens through a screen that displays dynamic icons, figures, and text. HMI panels can be used by the operator to monitor production and control it to a certain level. With increasing complexity in technology, factors such as ease of operation, problems in end product equipment, safety and reduction in the risk of human error, are becoming improtant. The technology builders at present are aware that the human machine interfaces are closely related to the efficiency, operational performance, and safety of various systems.
The success of equipment designed for human operation depends on the selection and integration of HMI components such as actuators, switch controls, and indicators. The ultimate aim of the communication between the machine and the operator is to ensure effective operation of the machine and that information from the machine can be used by the operator in taking key decisions. There are different types of interfaces for different systems and these interfaces can be used as a means of input, which allows users to manipulate the system; and the output of the system is an indication of the user’s manipulation. The features that are important for human machine interface include high quality graphics to represent the machinery and processes, simulation, trends, alarms and animation of equipment based on operator standards and communication such as Serial Port (SP), Data Highway Plus (DHP), and Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE).
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