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Benefits to HMIs

Posted June 11, 2017 12:00 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: HMI instrumentation radwell

In this day and age, human machine interfaces are everywhere. Think about every point of contact a human has with technology and it becomes a reminder that as humans, we interact with machines in just about every aspect of our lives today.

As it applies to automation equipment, HMI products offer the necessary electronics to control automation equipment in an industrial environment. HMI products can range from simple to a more complex touchscreen. In most environments HMI systems must be resistant to dust, water, moisture, and extreme temperatures.

There are many benefits to using HMI systems in an industrial environment. For starters, these systems help warn operators of equipment issues before they become an emergency. If an alert shows, it can allow the operator to track potential problems before they happen. This increases overall productivity and reduces downtime. Alarm/alert capabilities allow operators to work in a much more proactive way instead of a reactive one.

Another benefit to HMI systems has to do with planning. These systems provide an overall view of operations in real time so an operator can actually control a manufacturing facility from a central location. Because HMI systems are much simpler than their predecessors, they can reduce costs greatly.

As always, when it is possible to repair rather than replace something it saves an operation money and time. Repairing an existing system saves on the cost of purchasing a new system but it also saves on time because there is no need for training on a new system.

Time is money and efficiency is a basic need to maintain and grow a profitable manufacturing environment. Because HMI systems create increased efficiency, greater productivity and a more proactive working environment, they can be the cornerstone to a better running operation.


Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from Radwell International.

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Guru

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: North West England
Posts: 910
Good Answers: 114
#1

Re: Benefits to HMIs

06/12/2017 4:38 AM

Lots of pros listed here but none of the cons. HMI/automation suppliers (myself included) will tell you that it is simpler to operate but it is not in our interest to mention that deskilling your plant/process operators is not generally a good thing. I have encountered situations where I can hear a gearbox whine and obviously about to fail but the operator ignores the sound because his HMI does not show that there is a fault. Warn users that HMIs, SCADA' IIoT, industry 4.0 and automation supplement controlling the equipment but will not and can not replace the eyes and ears of a trained operator.

There are situations to employ HMIs and situations where it is a poor option. Many modern compressors have an HMI installed. It tells the user if the oil is too low or the temperature is too high and how many hours remain to the next service. The advanced electronics of the HMI is less reliable and more expensive than the two light bulbs and the hours run counter that it replaced. The oil and temperature sensors remain unchanged. The thermal overload relay cuts out the motor and then informs the HMI that the motor has tripped. The soft buttons on the screen are more prone to vibration faults than the replaced hard start/stop buttons, and the Emergency Stop still has it's own dedicated circuit that bypasses the HMI.

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Guru

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Posts: 11465
Good Answers: 136
#2
In reply to #1

Re: Benefits to HMIs

06/13/2017 3:03 PM

Then there is the flip side to that argument: well-trained operators can free up some time to make additional rounds where they actually check equipment, appearance, sound, smell, etc. Maybe even shoot an IR temperature here and there.

The HMI makes it easier to keep the logs up to date, and can help in start-up and shut-down mode a lot by allowing the operator to see what is happening on a number of pages nearly instantly, and he does not have to walk over to that piece of equipment to see how it is behaving at the moment.

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