A Human-Machine Interface, or HMI, is an interface that allows a man and a machine to interact for many uses. This interface allows to connect a Man with a system, a device, or a machine, in particular by the means of a screen for example.
This new technology allows to widen the possible fields of action in many sectors and to use it for a more efficient production in various fields. Nevertheless, it is above all in an industrial context that it is more used.
First, the names associated with this technology often vary, as a synonym that we have not yet fully mastered this novelty. Indeed, sometimes called Local Operator Interface, others Operator Terminal, they all describe the same innovative technology that are the Human Machine Interface. This technology can also take many forms, from simple touch screens or tablets to more complex machines with tenfold possibilities. Their objective remains the same: to provide insights into the performance, management, and maintenance of machines. Indeed, at several levels, these interfaces can be useful, such as to adapt production to a new medium, to perform a test or simulation phase, to automate part of its production or, as previously mentioned, to provide a certain amount of internal information to a machine.
At the industry level, these uses can materialize in several concrete ways. Interfaces allow to follow the production in real time on a screen and thus to estimate the production times, to consider solutions to reduce them, or to monitor the performance of each one and thus also to warn in case of anticipated breakdown by an unexplained drop of a machine. Not only for the machines, but they can also anticipate many problems thanks to their technology such as the temperature of the tanks, the correct functioning of the machines and thus become an essential tool for all operators. Therefore, almost all industrial companies now have this type of tool because of all the advantages it offers and make it available to their engineers or operators. These industrial companies have understood that they can be useful in many important sectors such as food processing, energy, transportation, or manufacturing.
These H-M interfaces, however, require the use of humans as its name indicates and is not a substitution like robotization, they simply allow to project internal information in real time so that a supervisor can take the necessary decisions. Thus, the collection or the recording of these data is impossible, we are more on a precise use in time and a temporary bridge between the men and the machine.
These HMIs make it possible to increase the reliability of production, improve performance and productivity, reduce costs, and facilitate exchanges with a pleasant ergonomics. Moreover, in the future, the use of HMI could be coupled with the advent of VR or AR, which would further expand the scope of possibilities of this technology in the industry. All of this, moreover, within a unified control center that makes everything even more practical.
Problems may arise with these machines, such as their resistance to dust, liquids, or high temperatures. The need to set up a robust system with adapted materials is then primordial not to damage the screen or to avoid a fast obsolescence of a system mainly made to avoid this on other machines. But in any case, this tool is interesting in a context where companies must constantly evolve, in a complex ecosystem where solutions are found to face the complexity of the environments they face, and to improve their efficiency and productivity in ultra-competitive sectors.
So, this technology obviously offers interesting opportunities, but it must be mastered, and the investments made in materials must be high enough to ensure its proper functioning.