The Human Machine Interface (HMI) is vital for making automated machines easy to setup and function properly. Without it, machine operation and setup is like a driver trying to steer a car without a steering wheel. Most machine OEMs are missing out on what current HMI technology may offer.
Over the years, new trends in HMI technology have reached industry and are fundamentally changing these devices for the better. The rate the technology is moving, it generally takes just a few short years for a HMI display to go out of date. Upgrades and enhanced devices reach the market quickly, and new generations are outperforming their predecessors across the board.
How Do I Know It’s Time to Update My HMI?
Whether or not your HMI is functioning properly is not the best way to gauge if upgrading is beneficial. Just because something works doesn’t mean that it offers the best user experience for your application. You can probably still find a few flip cell phones, but they certainly are not as functional, feature rich, and as data capable as a current smartphone.
Check your HMI to see if it has any of the following capabilities:
- Multi-Touch Controls: these differ from simple touch-screen technology. Multi-Touch controls allow users to perform a large variety of gestures (two and three finger clicks, swipes, etc.) in order to operate the machines that they control. It is a faster, easier, and certainly a more familiar way to pull up data and information on HMI displays.
- Mobile Device Compatibility: anything that doesn’t have the capability to duplicate operational control with tablets and mobile devices these days is considered out of date. All operational screens developed for the HMI should be easily served and replicated on tablets, smartphones and potentially wearable devices to allow operation and debug tasks while on the move.
- Multiple Communication Options: HMIs of today must have the capability to use multiple protocols simultaneously to allow best of breed control architectures. This allows the HMI to quickly serve up important data from all sub systems and allow the sub systems to communicate with one another, even if using different communication protocols.
- Advanced Diagnostics: diagnostics and problem remediation are key to keeping your machines running at full capacity. Simple HMIs have the capability of alerting users when something goes wrong, but more advanced diagnostic systems help users ascertain precisely what the problem is when it arises by allowing outbound email or texting and service documentation to be managed locally by the HMI. This allows technicians to more quickly act, and ultimately better manage machine issues as they arise. They can also archive data and save error reports to identify frequent problems.
- Better hardware: the most advanced HMIs are very durable and can operate even in the most challenging and hazardous conditions, bright ambient light, heat, cold, moisture, and harsh touch. If your HMI seems delicate or cannot withstand the conditions of your current and future applications adequately, it is definitely time for an upgrade.
Upgrade Your HMI Today
At AMMC we are always on top of the latest HMI technology. Don’t let your HMI technology become obsolete. Contact AMMC today for a cost-effective, technological upgrade.