Human-Machine Interface (HMI)
A Human-Machine Interface (HMI) is a user interface or dashboard that connects a person to a machine, system, or device. While the term can technically be applied to any screen that allows a user to interact with a device, HMI is most commonly used in the context of an industrial process.
In industrial settings, HMIs can be used to:
- Visually display data
- Track production time, trends, and tags
- Oversee KPIs
- Monitor machine inputs and outputs
- And more
The most common roles that interact with HMIs are operators, system integrators, and engineers, particularly control system engineers. HMIs are essential resources for these professionals, who use them to review and monitor processes, diagnose problems, and visualize data.
HMIs are used to optimize an industrial process by digitizing and centralizing data for a viewer. By leveraging HMI, operators can see important information displayed in graphs, charts, or digital dashboards, view and manage alarms, and connect with SCADA and MES systems, all through one console.
Previously, operators would need to walk the floor constantly to review mechanical progress and record it on a piece of paper or a whiteboard. By allowing PLCs to communicate real-time information straight to an HMI display, HMI technology eliminates the need for this outdated practice and thereby reduces many costly problems caused by lack of information or human error.