When embarking on an industrial digitisation project, it’s important to consider how people, processes and technology will work together.  These three considerations are integrated in a somewhat symbiotic manner, which is why each should function optimally and compliment the other.

By Sbo Chilli, product manager: EcoStruxure – IDHMI & IDMST at Schneider Electric

A good example is IIoT; the technology promises secure access to a lot of data but is this data providing the right insight to people as opposed to burying them under a heap of information?

Also, how do you ensure insights are delivered to workers whenever and wherever they need it, such as on the plant floor where they are working around production equipment.


HMIs and Industrial Automation

Enter Human Machine Interfaces or (HMIs); a technology developed to replace hard wired push buttons and indicator lights with an improved interface to interact with and control processes.

However, early HMIs were confined to control rooms or plant floor control panels. It wasn’t portable or mobile and staff had to physically interact with the HMI to read information.

Today, HMIs have evolved to become so much more than programmable replacements for push buttons and lights.  It is used to translate complex data into useful information. Plus, easy-to-understand visual displays give meaning and context to near real-time information and insights on how well processes are running.

With the advanced capabilities of HMIs, managers and supervisors not only gain invaluable insight but also benefit from:

  • New opportunities to improve the quality of products and systems.
  • Mobile technologies that give workers access to guidance or remote expertise wherever they may be working (inside or even outside the facility).
  • HMIs functioning as powerful edge computers gathering and processing data in real time to support advanced processes such as predictive maintenance.
  • The powerful processing and networking capabilities of HMIs, needed to provide new levels of information to workers anywhere in the plant.


Impactful decisions today

HMIs enables employees to identify problems quickly and easily; supporting them to make the right decisions which lead to improved processes and ultimately competitive products and services.

The technology connects people, applications, and machines across different locations. HMIs also assist users in choosing the best hardware, data sources, networks, and software for their needs.