HMI, in its simplest terms, includes any device or software that allows you to interact with a machine. This can be as simple and ubiquitous as the traditional single-touch display mounted on a machine or as technologically advanced as a multi-touch-enabled control panel or even connected mobile technology such as smartphones and smartwatches. HMI is considered an interface that allows humans to interact with the machine. Examples of HMI physical aspects could be a machine with touch display, a push button, a mobile device, or a computer with a keypad.
From an industrial perspective, the most valuable aspect of HMI technology is the ability to closely monitor production and respond to changing production demands, which improves efficiency and decreases downtime. These benefits are a result of improved diagnostics and monitoring. A properly designed HMI solution not only enhances productivity for the operator, but also provides line of sight into the system to control or maintain the machine. Alarming is a great example of an HMI function that provides visual indicators of a machine’s issue and its severity.