Design HMI software with user in mind, study encourages

HMI software architecture should be designed with the user in mind, a new ARC Advisory Group analysis indicates.

03/10/2005


HMI software architecture should be designed with the user in mind, a new ARC Advisory Group analysis indicates. It should have features such as common data structures, common device tags, built-in support facilities for access to data from the device level to the enterprise system, and common programming tools among different control domains, the report says.

“HMI software suppliers need to review their software platform strategies,” said Craig Resnick, ARC research director and principal author of ARC’s HMI Software Worldwide Outlook Market Study . “Many HMI software suppliers made improvements to their existing software platforms. But generally, this approach provides slow progress due to restrictions from legacy systems and their installed base of customers. HMI software suppliers are usually advised to establish platforms based on open technologies, but find this difficult when asked to maintain legacy features included on their installed base.”

HMI software plays a strategic role in the access, presentation, and exchange of information for managing plant-floor production processes, the report says. Because of the strategic role played by HMI software, manufacturers want that software to provide the tools for plant-wide information collection and integration, it goes on.

According to an analysis of the report , HMI software using flexible, multi-functional, interoperable platforms that provide peer-to-peer interfaces with other platforms drives factory visibility and intelligence and plays a major role in providing plant-wide connectivity. “That is why HMI software is sometimes referred to a visualization software,” it states.

HMI software connectivity on the plant floor, the report explains, allows a view of devices and machinery; connectivity toward the enterprise lets HMI software view production management and manufacturing intelligence tiers. HMI software suppliers who offer applications that address these user requirements for exchange and distribution of factory-floor information, it concludes, are postured to grow their businesses.

Initial data on worldwide HMI software market growth were released last fall. Click here to read more about it from ARC. Click here to read more about it from Control Engineering .

Watch for the results of a new research study on HMI software from Control Engineering and Reed Research Group coming in the September issue of Control Engineering .

—Jeanine Katzel, senior editor, Control Engineering, jkatzel@reedbusiness.com





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