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"An effective HMI gives the operator better situational awareness. Your plant is successful only if your operators are successful. [An effective HMI] helps operators deal more effectively with abnormal situations. It helps them do proper operating techniques. Poor HMIs impede that." So says Bill Hollifield, principal alarm management and HMI consultant at PAS and co-author of The High Performance HMI Handbook.
So how do your control-room HMIs measure up? Do they provide that essential situational awareness and operator support? What follows are some basic rules for designing a good, modern HMI.
According to Hollifield, one of the most glaring deficiencies in HMI design is the lack of trending information. He says that almost every graphic has one or two values on it that would be much easier to understand if they were presented as trends. He adds that ideally, trends should be embedded in the graphics, and appear whenever the graphic is called up.
[Editor's note: This article depends heavily on material found in presentations by Bill Hollifield and Paul Gruhn. Thanks to both of them for their help in its preparation.]
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