In 1987, author Iain M. Banks created the concept of the neural lace, a digital layer above the cortex allowing seamless connection between man and machine, basically the ultimate human-machine interface (HMI). Here John Young, sales director at industrial parts supplier EU Automation, explains how modern HMI technology can improve output in Asia.
Asia Pacific industry is increasingly interested in investing in HMIs. In fact, Mordor Intelligence, an industry market analyst, predicts that the Asia Pacific HMI market will be valued at US$1,529.39 million by 2023, at a CAGR of 12 percent. This is due to the growing need of businesses in the region to enhance efficiency and flexibility.
HMIs can rapidly communicate complex information by clearly representing status information in real time. However, achieving this requires careful display design because, not only must they accurately show detailed information, they must also be readable at a glance.
Before the advent of Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices, most machines in a factory had a dedicated isolated HMI. However, these displays, generally only showed simple data and early designs were also visually complicated, meaning operators still had to figure out what the information actually meant.
Due to continuous growth, many manufacturers may not be able to switch out old machinery, as any unnecessary production downtime can prove damaging to sales and output, particularly when working in industries such as food and beverage where perishables are present. Rapid growth of the economy in the Asia-Pacific region is set to continue with the International Monetary Fund forecasting 5.6 per cent growth in 2019. With no break in sight making getting the most out of older machines is vital.
Raising efficiency by installing a modern HMI system can give businesses the edge over competitors. This is because effective HMIs can reduce time spent on maintenance by allowing operators to clearly understand issues, such as locating which part of a machine is broken. With the escalating costs of downtime, being able to quickly solve breakdowns is crucial remaining competitive.
This does still leave the issue of what to do once the operator has identified a broken part. In these cases, it helps to have a parts supplier known for fast delivery times. For example, at EU Automation our system sources the part you need while also planning the fastest route to get it on location.
Modern HMI Design
Unlike older HMIs, more thought is being put into how modern displays are designed. For example, the introduction of pattern-based displays, such as annotated graphs, allow operators to simply view the context of the data displayed. Clearer designs mean operators can learn systems faster letting them both get up to speed and make vital decisions quickly.
IoT systems are also allowing HMI’s to take on forms previously unthought of, with many modern systems being able to send analysis directly to smart devices such as smartphones and smartwatches. This means that not only are modern HMI’s readable at a glance, but they can also be read anywhere at any time. This is incredibly beneficial for manufacturers with multiple plants, allowing for a side-by-side comparison.
All these developments make the modern HMI a powerful tool for operators. Their time saving potential and ability to be viewed anywhere can drastically increase work flow flexibility. Simply put, installing a modern HMI will allow businesses to get more out of their operators and streamline maintenance.
Neural laces may still be only possible in the pages of sci-fi books, but the flexibility afforded with modern HMI’s allows for nearly seamless understanding. The benefits gained from an effective HMI system cannot be overlooked and with rising demands raising efficiency is always a clear-cut route to success.
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