Human machine interfaces (HMI) have become increasingly commonplace in the modern-day world. According to a recent report published by Transparency Market Research (TMR), the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of HMIs is expected to grow at a rate of 10.4% by 2019. Companies can take advantage of this growth by implementing HMIs into their workplace. However, there are certain factors that affect the quality of HMIs that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Responsiveness — when a user enters a command into an HMI, it should provide a quick response by sending the command to the appropriate machine/application. Sluggish delays will reduce the overall effectiveness of an HMI, preventing workers from using it to its full potential. HMIs should also provide feedback to the user, indicating whether or not the command is being performed, as well as how long it will take to perform the issued command.
Ergonomics — how does the HMI feel when it’s being used? When you’re busy analyzing the technical aspects of a human machine interface, you may overlook something as simple as ergonomics. But conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that an HMI will only prove useful if it’s comfortable for workers to operate. Interfaces and/or keypads that are made of hard materials — or components that are shaped awkwardly — may be uncomfortable to operate. A high-quality HMI should have an emphasis on ergonomics, featuring soft, comfortable keypads and interfaces that are designed to meet the needs of the user.
Efficiency — we can’t talk about the factors that affect the quality of a human machine interface without mentioning efficiency. After all, the underlying principle behind HMIs is to streamline and automate processes that are otherwise performed manually. If an HMI fails to operate in an efficient manner, it will bog down the respective company’s processes; thus, costing the company time and money. For this reason, it’s recommended that users choose an HMI that’s efficient and able to perform tasks in a timely manner.
Reliability — how reliable is the human machine interface? If the HMI malfunctions or encounters errors on a regular basis, it’s going to be difficult to use on a regular basis. A high-quality HMI should provide consistent results, performing the operator’s commands as intended. Failure to perform these commands consistently is indicative of a low-quality HMI and thus should be replaced or fixed.