HMI Design

HMI Design and Its Critical Role

The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath exacerbated many of the longstanding challenges in the manufacturing workspace. With new health and safety protocols, remote work, supply chain disruptions, and more, facilities are grappling with heightened operational inefficiencies and workforce changes. Like the Manufacturing Alliance noted in its latest Manufacturing Workforce Trends Report, the industry has seen a surge in employee turnover since 2020, reflecting the broader post-pandemic resourcing issues being faced by organizations worldwide.

To address these challenges, facilities must prioritize the implementation of consistent and intuitive HMI designs that are closely integrated with comprehensive training programs. These empower employees of all experience levels to navigate and interact with complex machinery and systems, reducing the potential for errors and accidents. By combining training programs with HMI design, we can ensure that teams receive the necessary guidance and knowledge to perform their tasks effectively and safely, which can positively impact employee turnover and promote operational success.

The need for consistent and intuitive HMI design, coupled tightly with a comprehensive training program, is no longer an option.

Developing Proper HMI Solutions

Masked Owl Technologies (MOT) believes that proper HMI design is a critical part of every industrial automation solution. Implementing proper HMI design that creates an intuitive operator experience and minimizes ramp up time from days to minutes is a fundamental component of our philosophy. The time it takes to move operators from orientation to production is critical, whether driven by growth or turnover. MOT’s HMI solutions empower operators to quickly identify crucial system information while minimizing additional details. We embrace ISA101, the internationally recognized standards for high-performance HMI design. Leveraging years of experience in designing, implementing, and testing HMIs, MOT’s engineers are experts who closely follow these standards. MOT also embraces ISA18 (Alarm Management), the standards dedicated to enhancing the intuitive nature of HMI design in process industry sectors. Just as ISA101 filters data to minimize visual clutter, ISA18 focuses on minimizing nuisance alarms and delivering actionable data to operators. This approach enables operators to swiftly diagnose problems and respond effectively to alarms.

Design Process and Training

MOT has collaborative design process that deviates from the traditional 30%-60%-90% development review framework. Our approach involves regular, collaborative reviews between project engineers, production teams, and leadership personnel. This standardized review cadence allows for swift feedback and facilitates immediate adjustments, resulting in a shortened HMI design process and increased quality.

Our technical training department is actively engaged in each phase of the project lifecycle, from development and construction to installation and start up. We take pride comprehensive training program that details each solution, enabling new facility operators and maintenance personnel to gain a deep understanding of how each HMI functions. At the end of the project, we provide our clients with a comprehensive training program comprised of videos, manuals, testing materials, and more for ongoing use as new personnel join their facilities.

Existing Facilities

MOT provides comprehensive HMI solutions for both new expansion or greenfield facilities and existing systems. Our expertise extends to reengineering existing HMIs, resulting in a standardized interface model across the entire facility. 

As an example from one of our engineer’s previous assignments prior to MOT, a client acquired an off-the-shelf, high-quality piece of equipment required for their process from a reputable manufacturer. The manufacturer’s HMI design, however, didn’t adhere to the plant’s standards. The engineer redeveloped the OEM HMI to meet the standards and maintain plant-wide consistency. During testing, both HMIs were used to mitigate risk. Following successful testing, the OEM HMI was removed, resulting in a cohesive HMI design throughout the entire plant.

With minimal risk and significant impact to productivity, MOT’s experienced engineers excel at reworking existing HMIs to create cohesive, plant-wide designs.

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