Traditionally, when we talked about HMIs, it was considered to be a part of the machine and worked as a standalone solution to control and interact with the machine. However, today the usability and functionality of HMI has seen an unprecedented turn as IoT has been introduced. More and more people have started expressing their expectations and want the HMIs to be easy to understand and interact with. Customers expecting the HMI to be as friendly as their smartphones thus introduce a big change. The automation in the industries has been rising, and unlike earlier where usually OEMs demanded Web HMIs, even the end user industries have proved to be an important customer. No industry or manufacturing company want to be left behind in the race of technological advancements, where the Industrial Internet of Things is emerging as a game changer. Automation is a thing of past and now everyone is looking for ‘Smart’ Automation, where the systems are more connected and integrated than ever, resulting in increased functionality.
A better user-interface and safer HMIs are the reason for their robust demand. As the market still is in its nascent stages, multiple companies are coming forth bringing innovation in these fields, stirring up the competition. Any technological innovation should either make the process cost-effective or give productivity benefits.
- The change: With a diverse use of HMI, it has become imperative to ensure that they are not only reliable but also upgradable with the change of technology. The more customizable it is, the lesser would be the need to replace it with changing technology. The built quality has been updated considerably, so there is no need for any maintenance. Let us see how these qualities can be incorporated.
- Increasing the efficiency: To work hand in hand with the IoT technology, the basic requirement which is needed from HMI is that, it should be able to share the information, also known as Operation Technology data with the cloud, where it can be analysed. It should not only be able to send the data remotely, but also locally to the business’s or systems. As the data points and the system gets integrated, it becomes easy to make observation and conclusions based on the analysed data and take timely decisions. The performance of the machines gets efficient, and the production is in a controlled manner. All these factor directly leads to increased operational efficiency. All this can be done only if there is no or minimal maintenance required. Use of latest processors might help in controlling the heat in the machines, thus making them highly reliable.
- Visualising Data: Now HMIs have been developed which can give access to the areas which remained inaccessible by their data visualisation capabilities. As the systems get integrated in an enterprise, the data visualisation gets even more important. This helps in increasing the returns from present and future systems and the machineries. There are different requirements for different devices, and the more the connectivity options, better would be the versatility. This would result in better supervision and decision making with use of smart automation. Many problems like system failure and downtime can be averted with this process.
- Implementation and learning curve: As we observe people are fully acquainted with the technology in mobile phones and tablets. Many additional functions which were recently introduced, like multi-touch displays etc. are already prevalent in the market in different forms, hence learning curve is not at all steep. Practically each and every industry comes under the preview of HMI. As in one way or the other, there is bound to be human interaction with the machines even if the process is fully automated. If you observe today, process industries have already adopted HMI. Sitting away in a control room, the operations like mining can be managed. Usually, there is a touch type system in place as it is much familiar to users. HMI may include server grade hardware to deliver complex tasks. Many industries from automobile to pharmaceuticals have started using the new eras’ HMI. We have waited a lot for the industry 4.0 to rise, and HMI and IoT have made a distant reality to an achievable future.