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Human-Machine Interface (HMI) Will Enhance Company Operation in the Future

by | Mar 3, 2022 | Industry, Technology

Industrial control systems continue to evolve and operators need to perform tasks in environments that change frequently according to market demand.

And industrial technologies are becoming more and more computerized where employees need to interact mostly with a screen. To manage this complexity, control systems must be flexible and ergonomic.

Hence, the changing operational and business needs have led to exciting developments in Human-Machine Interface technology. A Human-Machine Interface or HMI is an interface that allows users to interact with a machine.

HMIs can take different forms such as screens directly integrated into machines, computer screens, touchpads, mobile phones and much more. Whatever the form, the purpose of these interfaces remains the same, which is to provide insights into machines’ performance and progress.

But what exactly is the human-machine interface?

What is human-machine interface?

Human-machine interface refers to a panel that allows a user to communicate with a machine, computer program or system. Technically, the term could apply to any screen used to interact with a device.

It is generally used in contexts of industrial environments that control and monitor organization processes. HMIs display real-time data and allow the user to control machines through great user interface.

This interface refers to operator panels or terminals where machine control takes place. The interface encompasses all the elements that a person will touch, see, hear or use to perform control functions and receive feedback on those actions.

Thus, the working personnel can control or monitor machines from the HMI panel which include detail about the operation. The control panel displays the operation processes and can display technical issues.

HMIs are mostly used by operators, system integrators and engineers. Hence, it is an essential resource for these professionals, who use it to examine and monitor processes, diagnose problems and visualize data.

This software allows engineers to design what the operator will see on the screen, what can be mounted, which buttons can be pressed and how to operate the machine. The system can also suggest the most efficient option to perform a specific.

Why human-machine interface is important to industries?

HMI is used to optimize an industrial process by digitizing and centralizing data and processes. Thus, operators can visualize important information in graphs, digital dashboards and signal alarms via a simple console.

It provides interfaces to allow operators to better understand the operation or if there is any problem. The HMI communicates with programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and sensor data to retrieve and display information available to users.

A PLC is a tiny computer that can receive data through its inputs and send operating instructions through its outputs. Hence, operators can take rapid and efficient decisions accordingly.

Previously, operators had to manually review and inspect the progress of machines and processes. Then the findings were recorded on a sheet of paper or board. Today, PLCs can communicate real-time information directly to an HMI screen.

Therefore, this technology eliminates the need for such manual practices and reduces many costly issues caused by missing information or human error. Data plays an increasingly critical role to enhance operational processes.

HMI provides processed data and displays it with great interfaces for better understanding. The technology may have come a long way and its potential for growth remains virtually limitless.

A well-designed HMI system does more than just present functions and control information. It also provides the operator with active functions based on the system performance information.

An important concept of HMI is the ease of use of the control panel. Its functions and operation make life easier for the operator and technicians involved in processes.

Uses of human-machine interface

HMI is used in a wide range of industries. It is common in various types of industries such as food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, energy, wastewater, construction transportation, etc…

The sophistication of the HMI varies according to the complexity of the machine or system for which it is used. It also varies depending on how it is planned to use.

You can use an HMI for a single function such as monitoring a machine or for multiple purposes including monitoring plant operations and controlling equipment.

When Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and sensors obtain information about equipment operation. The information is displayed on the HMI screen.

An HMI can display this information as a graph, table or other visual representation that makes it easier to read and understand.

With the HMI system, employees can view all equipment performance and are provided with information all in one place. Thus this improves the visibility of the plant’s operations.

Another application is that operators can also view and manage alarms as well as can react quickly to issues. Operators can also use HMIs to control equipment to increase productivity or adapt to changing circumstances.

They can make adjustments based on the data they see on the HMI system. The ability to make the required changes on screen makes this process faster and easier.

Benefits of human-machine interface

Enhance operation

HMI gives better visibility of operations all the time. This allows viewing performances of equipment or installation in a single dashboard. And it can even be viewed remotely. These features help to gradually improve productivity and respond to alerts faster.


Since an HMI provides constant access to real-time data, this can enhance monitoring and adapt to real-time changing demand. Data visualization when combined with data analytics technologies can help identify areas where there is room for improvement and efficiency of procedures.

Reduced downtime

With sensors on production lines and alerts on the dashboard, decisions can be taken to respond to issues faster hence reducing downtime. Viewing and analyzing equipment performance data can also help identify signs of upcoming mechanical issues and resolve them before it escalate into problems capable of causing serious downtime.

Improved interpretation

HMIs make it easier for users to view and understand data and control equipment. It presents information using charts, tables and other visualizations which allows users to quickly interpret it. And users can also customize dashboards with only the tool needed and according to preferences.

System unification

All equipment can be controlled from a single platform, making it easier for operators to learn how to control equipment. Also, all the required data can be accessed from one place.

This can help get a clear overview of the entire installation. Plus all users receive real-time updates which can inform every member of an operation to be well informed.

Remote monitoring

Another valuable feature of modern HMI is remote monitoring. Authorized users can access dashboards and reports using the internet.

This means that monitoring and performance of operational tasks can be performed anywhere from a computer in the office, a tablet at home or a smartphone. Remote monitoring allows supervision without having to be on-site and gives better process control and easier access to data.

Improve security

Every employee may have a unique ID within the organization. Hence the system knows who accesses each data every time. And also personalized data are delivered to each employee according to their role and hierarchy within the company.

The future of human-machine interface

Advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics are starting to have more influence. As more connected devices come online, HMIs can collect more data and integrate it into the network.

State-of-the-art data analysis techniques applied alongside HMI software can help companies get the most out of the data presented on their dashboards. Also, touchscreens have grown in popularity with the rise of smartphones.

Thanks to that, multi-touch screen allows users to interact using multiple touches and gestures simultaneously. This functionality is now available in the industrial sector.

HMI control reduces the risk of errors. This feature helps prevent potentially costly or even fatal errors. As data take on more prominent roles in industrial processes, HMI is bound to become even more important to create an almost error-free environment.

Technology has made significant advancements in recent years and will continue to evolve in the future. More and more companies are moving towards high-performance HMIs, which can focus users’ attention only on the most critical information.

By drawing attention to only the most necessary or critical indicators in the interface, this design technique helps the operator see and react to problems more effectively as well as make better-informed decisions on specific issues.

This helps users understand all available data and avoids information overload. Companies are also increasingly using touch screens, remote control and cloud-based systems.

The more technology evolves and data became available, the more companies will use data analytics and artificial intelligence to gain insights. They can then communicate this information to users through HMIs.

In the future, HMIs may also incorporate augmented reality (AR) which overlays digital graphics onto the real world. And with virtual reality (VR) technology, users create more effective visuals or improve interfaces.

As automation continues to play a central role in industrial processes, HMIs technology will continue to improve and adapt to greater needs.

Design elements such as color, size and placement are used to optimize the user experience. High-performance HMI screens better improve interaction.

The higher the level of functionality and interaction built into the system, the more the user interface reflects the essential experience of a machine or process.

In the future, Human-Computer Interfaces are profiled on moving objects capable of detecting positioning with high precision. The systems of these HMIs can signal using a GPS which gives optimal routes to the machine.

As for the display interfaces, they are programmed in such a way as to provide the user with a lot of useful information. As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to play an increasingly important role in industrial facilities. Hence it enables all devices within the company to connect which HMIs can benefit from.