Why Human-Machine Interfaces Are Crucial
Posted on September 1, 2023
A Human-Machine Interface (HMI) is often considered a quality-of-life feature that you invest in if you have the funds left over. But in truth, HMI plays an essential role in improving the efficiency and safety of complex systems. Let’s understand how.
Accessibility Improves Efficiency
Human-Machine Interfaces, by their very definition, are concerned with improving accessibility. This might not seem like much, but in a complex setup involving multiple systems and machinery spread over an entire complex, an interface like this is absolutely necessary.
Without the simplicity of a dedicated HMI, you must spend time and effort in training every new hire about the intricacies of controlling the various systems at your disposal. For many enterprise systems, this translates to a multitude of push buttons attached to different machines.
Even when all that your setup does is handle data or oversee an assembly line, the lack of an integrated node collecting all the information in one place can slow things down, as multiple status checks are required to get the complete picture.
HMI Reduces Mistakes
Human-Machine Interfaces don’t only make systems more accessible, they also make things simpler. Inputs that earlier took multiple interactions at different nodes are all streamlined into a single screen, whether we are talking of physical buttons or just data.
This simplicity reduces the chances of human error, as it is much easier for operatives to control the systems and see how their inputs affect the process. The resultant decrease in the rates of critical errors and system breakdowns improves the performance of your business, saving you time and money that would otherwise be wasted in frequent troubleshooting.
Improved Accuracy and Quality
In most industrial fields, the various hardware being used in the production process needs to be calibrated and operated with utmost precision. For a traditional setup, this translates to engineers manually checking up on every machine periodically.
But this manual approach introduces delays and inaccuracies, as there is no way to constantly monitor the diverse set of hardware and match it up perfectly in real time. Unless you have a Human-Machine Interface, of course.
With an HMI, it is actually possible to monitor all the hardware from a single panel PC. This lets your technicians take in constant feedback to precisely control the processes, improving the performance and quality of your work.
Which Applications Can Benefit from HMIs?
Generally speaking, Human-Machine Interfaces are flexible enough to slot into any type of application these days. Whether you need to perform data analytics or run a complex assembly line, there is an HMI interface that can get the job done.
That being said, here are some applications that almost need an HMI to be effective.
An industrial setup only loses time and money due to the slowdown imposed by a non-streamlined interface, but for many essential services, the stakes are literally life-and-death.
Be it medical personnel or 911 operators, these emergency services cannot afford to waste time wrangling with complicated interfaces split across multiple hardware units. Unifying the controls into a single panel allows them to perform their tasks quickly and effectively, saving lives through their timely response.
Modern factories are implementing automated systems for many of their manufacturing and assembly processes, but managing this automated workflow is a tricky task in its own right. But with the aptly named Overseer HMI, you can keep an eye on the complete setup easily.
An HMI system like this integrates the controls as well as the status data of all the machinery in use. For this reason, it is also called a Manufacturing Execution System (MES).
Should You Invest in an HMI?
Spending money on a Human-Machine Interface can feel like an unnecessary diversion, but the numbers tell a different story. The gains in efficiency due to an HMI will often pay for itself, to say nothing of the time saved due to the simpler interface.
HMIs also reduce potential errors and breakdowns, which can be critical in many scenarios such as expensive factor setups or emergency services. Even applications that are not time-sensitive can benefit from the streamlining of the data collection and analytics into a single screen.