Whitepaper: Small form factor HMIs evolve

Embedded computers are fueling advances in these useful devices.
By Control Engineering Staff May 8, 2008

HMIs have mutated and changed over the years as new technology has emerged, and they are more flexible and capable than ever before. While they’ve been doing that, they’ve also become smaller and more useful. “Once found in only complex control systems, like distributed control systems in refineries and other process plants, HMI systems are now found in many guises and many locations, from games to industrial machines and tooling systems, with many stops in between,” said Hector Lin, Advantech Corp. Industrial Automation Group and author of the company’s The Advantages of Small Form Factor HMI white paper.

Advances over the years have included touchscreen and LCD displays. Lin said the biggest advance was in small form factor embedded computers, which made it possible to replace the two-line display on a typical tool or transmitter with a full featured HMI. “Small form factor HMIs coupled with small form factor embedded computers have revolutionized the use of HMIs on the plant floor,” he said.

Increased power usage has given rise to the need for computing devices with lower power requirements.

Small form factor HMIs are found in a variety of applications and vertical markets. Other highlights of the Advantech whitepaper include an in-depth explanation of HMI, what it is, and how it functioned in early computers. Other segments cover portability, increased reliability, reduced cost, and better cost-benefit ratios today.

–edited by Renee Robbins , senior editor, Control Engineering Daily News Desk