Machine automation engineers now include embedded human machine interfaces (HMI) in new equipment in order to make it possible for those machines to communicate with other machines in the industrial internet of things (IIoT). However, the rapid changes in industrial technology can render many of those machines obsolete if deliberate measures aren't taken to future-proof the HMI. This article discusses some of the future-proofing options which design engineering professionals can implement to keep HMI relevant.
One way to future-proof a human machine interface is by making that HMI versatile in the sense that it can work on various operating systems or platforms, such as Linux and Windows. This portability makes it possible for the HMI to be operable on any platform which an equipment supplier chooses to host the various machines to which this specific piece of equipment has to be connected. Machines without this portability can end up being discarded since they will be incapable of working in the new setup.
It is one thing for an HMI to be loaded onto a given platform and it is a completely different matter for that HMI to be operable on various protocols on those platforms. Protocols refer to the specific "language" which different machines use to communicate with each other. For example, some human machine interfaces may have been designed to "speak" or recognise communication which is sent using a driver or a database only. Such HMI may be unusable when they need to be on the same network as other HMI which use another system. Inter-operability makes it possible to have all those different HMI working seamless within the same network.
The options of the devices from which human machine interfaces can be controlled have been increasing over time. For example, it was once novel for a technician to control a machine using a desktop computer in an office which is far from the location of that machine. Today, it is normal for machines to receive and execute commands sent from tablets, smartphones and other devices which are connected to those machines. Mobility standards (HTML5, for example) make this integration possible. HMI should therefore be designed with the capability of working seamlessly with various mobile devices so that those HMI remain relevant long into the future.
Are you working on a machine automation project? Don't just focus on your immediate needs. Use the suggestions above to future-proof that automation project so that you avoid incurring high costs to overhaul the system once it can no longer cope with the new developments in the industrial internet of things.Share
12 April 2018
Factories are amongst our most underrated buildings, but they not only have a style and design sense all of their own--they also hold important clues to the history of the areas they're in, and each one can tell a fascinating story. In this blog I'll be highlighting some of my favourite factories around the world to discuss their architecture, what they produce, their history and what they tell us about their local areas and communities. I'll also be getting into the nitty-gritty from time to time, as it turns out that the inside world of industry is more riveting than you might imagine!