More and more manufacturing companies are investing in human machine interfaces (HMIs). As the name suggests, an HMI is an interface through which a human operator controls a machine. Manufacturing companies typically use them to control various machines and systems. To learn more about HMIs and how they are used in the manufacturing industry, keep reading.
Overview of Human Machine Interfaces In Manufacturing
While there are countless types of HMIs, they are all designed to perform the same fundamental task: to allow a human operator to control a machine or device. HMIs perform this operation by providing a method of input, such as a keypad or dial knobs. Using this input, a worker can essentially control the machine or device to which the HMI is connected.
There are several benefits to using HMIs in the manufacturing industry. Among other things, they provide a simple and convenient way for workers to control machines. However, they also provide real-time feedback on integrated systems. Some HMIs can even send data to connected computers. These are just a few reasons why so many manufacturing companies are investing in HMIs.
Components of an HMI
So, what components does a typical HMI feature? It varies depending on the specific HMI and its intended function. With that said, most HMIs have a few basic components, one of which is light-emitting diode (LED) indicators. These LEDs light up to indicate various control mechanisms. If a system is working, for instance, the LED may light up green. And when it’s not working, it may light up red.
In addition to LEDs, HMIs may also feature switches. Some HMIs use traditional mechanical switches, whereas others use membrane switches. Membrane switches are often preferred in harsh environments where humidity and moisture is a problem. Because membrane switches are made using a single, flexible substrate, they generally offer a higher of protection from the intrusion of moisture than their mechanical counterpart.
Furthermore, some HMIs feature touchscreens. A touchscreen HMI may or may not feature other methods of input.
Graphical User Interface vs Human Machine Interface
Some people assume that HMIs are the same as graphic user interfaces (GUIs). While they both allow a human to control a machine or device, there’s one fundamental difference between the two: a GUI specifically involves a graphical interface, whereas a HMI may use a graphical or physical interface. In manufacturing, both HMIs and GUIs are commonly used to control machines and devices.