Human Machine Interface

ASHWANI KUMAR on 1/10/2021 12:44:54 PM

HMI Defined

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.

Although HMI is the most common term for this technology, it is sometimes referred to as Man-Machine Interface (MMI), Operator Interface Terminal (OIT), Local Operator Interface (LOI), or Operator Terminal (OT). HMI and Graphical User Interface (GUI) are similar but not synonymous: GUIs are often leveraged within HMIs for visualization capabilities.

In industrial settings, HMIs can be used to:

1)Visually display data

2)Track production time, trends, and tags

3)Oversee KPIs

4)Monitor machine inputs and outputs

And more Similar to how you would interact with your air-conditioning system to check and control the temperature in your house, a plant-floor operator might use an HMI to check and control the temperature of an industrial water tank, or to see if a certain pump in the facility is currently running.

HMIs come in a variety of forms, from built-in screens on machines, to computer monitors, to tablets, but regardless of their format or which term you use to refer to them, their purpose is to provide insight into mechanical performance and progress.

Who Uses HMI?

HMI technology is used by almost all industrial organizations, as well as a wide range of other companies, to interact with their machines and optimize their industrial processes.

Industries using HMI include:


2)Food and beverage


4)Oil and gas




8)Waste and water

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.

Common Uses of HMI

HMIs communicate with Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) and input/output sensors to get and display information for users to view. 

HMI screens can be used for a single function, like monitoring and tracking, or for performing more sophisticated operations, 

like switching machines off or increasing production speed, depending on how they are implemented.

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.

Advantages of an HMI

The greatest advantage of an HMI is the user-friendliness of the graphical interface. 

The graphical interface contains color coding that allows for easy identification (for example: red for trouble). 

Pictures and icons allow for fast recognition, easing the problems of illiteracy. HMI can reduce the cost of product manufacturing, and potentially increase profit margins and lower production costs. HMI devices are now extremely innovative and capable of higher capacity and more interactive, elaborate functions than ever before. 

Some technological advantages the HMI offers are: converting hardware to software, eliminating the need for mouse and keyboard, and allowing kinesthetic computer/human interaction

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