Reevaluating HMIs via use of best practices

In a Web seminar sponsored by TiPS Inc. - The Alarm Management Company, Ian Nimmo conducted a mini seminar based on his book, "The High Performance HMI Handbook." As a founder and former program director of the Abnormal Situation Management (ASM) Consortium and a 30-year veteran of the refining and petrochemicals industry, Nimmo says, "Early DCSs had limited graphic capabilities.

04/01/2009


In a Web seminar sponsored by TiPS Inc. - The Alarm Management Company, Ian Nimmo conducted a mini seminar based on his book, "The High Performance HMI Handbook." As a founder and former program director of the Abnormal Situation Management (ASM) Consortium and a 30-year veteran of the refining and petrochemicals industry, Nimmo says, "Early DCSs had limited graphic capabilities. We defaulted to using P&ID views, and we have since discovered that they're not the most useful for controlling the process. They look like a picture, and are convenient, but they are more useful for designing a process than for operating a system."

Some of the problems with HMI graphics, says Nimmo, are the product of their being designed by the least experienced person in the room at the time. Problems include the copying of P&ID mistakes into the graphics, inaccurate locations of instruments, and disproportion of the equipment to its importance (big pictures of tanks but no picture of the tank instrument.)

"Management has been reluctant to pay for HMI redesign," says Nimmo. "They think they paid for the initial design, but often they didn't. It was done as inexpensively as possible, and they have never put in a dollar justification for the poor design they have."

Nimmo hopes to "bring the big picture back" and encourages reevaluation of HMIs and implementation of best practices. "High performance HMIs are practical and achievable," he says, and now might be exactly the right time to take up the project of evaluating systems and creating style guides.

Purchase Nimmo's book, "The High Performance HMI Handbook," online at: www.mycontrolroom.com/sitedata/company/hmibook.html





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