HMI Experts Display Interface Advice

In our February 2015 Resources column, the editors of control turn to the web to looks for the latest on human machine interface.

By Control Staff


When a process plant suffers a catastrophic failure that costs lives, where does the blame lie? With the operators who may have been among the casualties and can't speak for themselves? Or the HMI that failed to show the operators a system out of control at a time when they could still do something about it? What about the less spectacular failures that cost time and money and waste raw materials and energy? This white paper, "Building an HMI that Works," explores best practices to build an HMI that can deliver crucial production information to inform operators in a clear and timely manner. The direct link is at
Opto 22


This brief, free tutorial provides an overview of the basics of typical SCADA systems. Subjects covered include hardware and software architectures, including communications and interfacing, application development, product evolution and development roadmaps, engineering and types of systems from various vendors, such as Schneider Electric and GE Fanuc, including Intellution and iFix systems. The direct link is at


The modern factory runs on information. The more you have—presented in a usable, actionable fashion—the better you can run your processes and your overall operations. This presentation by manufacturing consultant Charlie Gifford discusses the data collection process for manufacturing intelligence, and explores how to build operations, business intelligence and KPI knowledge for shop-floor understanding. It's free but registration is required. The direct link is at
Maple Systems


This 7-minute YouTube video shows good practices for accessing PLC data and I/O from HMIs for optimized performance, reliability, maintainability and portability using RSLogix 500.
Rohtek Automation


This free PDF explores the technical issues to be addressed when providing information delivery from plant floor devices to the enterprise in HMI applications using Visual Basic technologies. Issues include PLC and control system connectivity, database connectivity, recipe download, logging, trending and alarming. The paper explores how off-the-shelf technologies based on specifications such as COM, ActiveX and OPC can be used with applications developed in Visual Basic to address these issues and provide flexible, cost-effective information delivery systems. The intended audience is the control systems engineer with little or no experience with Visual Basic, but who is familiar with PLCs, is comfortable using a PC running the Windows operating system, and may have created HMI applications in the past using other tools. The direct link is at
Software Toolbox


This is a collection of three video tutorials on the general subject of "Screen Designing and Interfacing with a PLC." The three videos are "Momentary and Maintained Buttons," "Display Elements, Meter, Bar Pipe" and "Set Constants, Increment and Decrement in HMI." Each is about 15 minutes long. All are free, but popcorn is not included. Go here to access all three videos.
NFI Industrial Automation Training Academy


This 21-page, free PDF tutorial introduces the underlying principles of good user-centered HMI design. The target audiences are engineers and designers with an interest in meeting end users' wants and needs, and individuals who have heard about usability of user-centered design and would like to find out more. Topics covered include why usability is important, basic principles of engineering a user-centered HMI, measurable HMI targets, the usability engineering lifecycle, requirements gathering and rapid prototyping, usability evaluation, and relevant international standards. The direct link is at
International Engineering Consortium

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