Myths and Misconceptions About Human Machine Interfaces

Aug 26, 2016

question-mark-160071_960_720Human machine interfaces (HMI) offer an interface through which a human operator can control a machine. It’s somewhat of a catch-all term that covers a broad range of interfaces, most of which are used in industrial/commercial settings. But there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding HMIs, some of which we’re going to discuss in today’s blog post.

HMIs and SCADA are the Same

Another common misconception is that HMIs and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) are the same. While they share some similarities, they are two unique components. SCADA is the entire system that controls the operations of one or more machines. Long story short, the HMI is a part of SCADA, as SCADA is a complete system that controls all operations, including the HMI.

HMIs are New

Some people assume that HMIs are a relatively new concept, first appearing in recent years. However, HMIs have been around for decades, with origins dating as far back as the 1940s-50s. Granted, back then these weren’t the HMIs that we know of today. Rather, they were simplistic interfaces that laid the groundwork for modern-day HMIs.

HMIs Don’t Contain any Important Physical Components

This statement couldn’t be further from the truth. HMIs contain several critical components that are necessary for its operation. Among these components includes membrane switches, rubber keypads and even touchscreens. Being that there are so many different types of HMIs, each of which has its own specific purpose, there’s no single universal design schematic. You can find HMIs in dozens of different construction specifications, featuring a variety of different physical components.

All HMIs are the Same

Again, there are hundreds if not thousands of different HMIs, varying in size, specification, features and function. If you’re in the market for an HMI, make sure it’s made by a reputable company; otherwise you could end up with a lemon. When speaking of HMIs, it’s best to follow the mantra “quality over quantity.”

There are No Benefits to Using an HMI

HMIs offer many benefits. For starters, it allows a human operator to control a machine through a convenient and intuitive interface. Even if the machine can be operated manually, using an HMI may facilitate this process, allowing for faster, more efficient controls. This is why so many companies use HMIs in their day-to-day operations.

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