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How to Choose the Best HMI (Human Machine Interface) Solution

By ·Categories: Industrial IoT·Published On: July 8th, 2020·2.8 min read·

Choosing the best HMI solution doesn’t have to be hard. It all starts with your requirements. How will it be used? Who will be using it? What inputs and outputs do you need? Where will it be installed? 

First, let’s start with the basics. 

What is HMI?

Human Machine Interface (HMI) is a user interface most commonly in an industrial manufacturing and automation environment, HMI allows operators to control machinery using visual representations of the components and also enables operators to optimize efficiency by providing insight into mechanical performance and progress. 

How is HMI Used in Industry 4.0?

HMI solutions are most commonly deployed to control complex manufacturing and industrial systems by relatively few operators. Often the operators use SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) management software such as Ignition and manufacturing facilities of every kind have adopted these systems due to their reliability and ease of use. 

HMIs are used to:

  • Track production time and trends
  • Enable functions to be performed and offer feedback on those functions
  • Observe system inputs and outputs
  • Monitor system health and performance

Since HMIs typically offer a visual representation of the system or systems being controlled, training is much easier and operators have intuitive insight into the status of equipment and production.

The Best HMI is Built for Durability and a Long Lifecycle

In the past, desktop computers were commonly used for HMI systems because they offer a familiar interface and control via mouse and keyboard. However, consumer desktop computers lack the durability and longevity required in industrial environments where dust, debris, and wide temperature variations are common environmental factors. The best HMI can withstand an extreme environment and offers a long lifecycle. For your HMI panel PC,  you can select an industrial all-in-one panel PC or build one by combining an industrial or rugged computer and separate touchscreen display. When space in tight, an all-in-one panel PC is often a good choice, but if you want the flexibility to swap out components, choose a modular build-your-own approach.   

Touchscreen Choices – Depends on the User

With the proliferation of industrial HMIs comes the need for more and more advanced touchscreen systems and software. There are two primary touchscreen technologies for HMI applications and OnLogic offers options for both types. 

Capacitive Touchscreens use the human body’s electrical field to process input, similar to many of today’s smartphones. Capacitive touchscreens are frequently used for installations that require highly accurate touch sensing or multi-touch capabilities such as pinch to zoom so they are frequently used for kiosks and interactive digital signage.

Resistive Touchscreens rely on physical pressure to transmit touch data. Since resistive touchscreens can be used while wearing gloves, they are a great choice for factory automation and healthcare applications and a good choice when a more tactile interface is preferred.


Don’t Forget the Details!

Where will the HMI be mounted?  What are your input and output requirements? What is your power source? 

OnLogic’s line of HMI solutions are engineered with reliability and flexibility in mind including a variety of mounting options and legacy I/O options to enable connectivity to a broad range of devices. We offer solutions that are resistant to shock, vibration, moisture, temperature extremes, airborne particulate, and can even handle fluctuating input power. Once you understand your requirements, we’re here to help you choose the best HMI solution. Contact our technical sales staff today! 

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About the Author: Sarah Lavoie

Sarah Lavoie is a content creator for OnLogic. When not writing, she can usually be found exploring the Vermont landscape with her camera looking to photograph something amazing.
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