Page 15 - AutomationNOTEBOOK-vol44
P. 15

 Cover Story continued
operator-entered. Include engineering units and allowable ranges.
Streamline Graphics for Simplicity
A key benefit of digital HMIs is the ability to present graphical images and icons which can be quickly recognized by users without requiring read- ing or possible misunderstanding due to language barriers. However, that doesn’t mean the graphics should be detailed engineering drawings, complex photographs, or highly animated.
Instead, the contemporary best practice is to provide simplified iconic graphics where possible. Constant animation may be useful in limited cases, but it consumes processing resources and is usually considered a distraction.
While bitmap-type images are usually discour- aged, there are many good reasons to include them in factory automation. Designers can include images of equipment and parts with arrows, for instance, to clearly indicate to users where trouble is occurring.
Usability First
Investigate other advanced features that
help operators do their job. Don’t just show the current level of a vessel, but instead make the level available as a trend so the operator can understand how the system has recently operated. Even better, embed critical indicated values as mini-trends right on a screen.
A similar concept applies to alarms. For
most systems it is important to indicate currently active alarms. But a detailed historical alarm/
event logs with date/time stamps can assist troubleshooting efforts by letting users review how an issue developed.
Situational Awareness is the Goal
The concept of situational awareness developed out of military theory and more recently the aviation industry, but it is applicable for industrial factory automation designs. The end goal for the HMI portion of an automated system is to provide all relevant information so users can understand what is happening and know what action is required.
Large engineering firms or process facilities may have significant resources available to develop their HMIs. However, smaller organizations, system
Cover Story
integrators, and OEMs can take advantage of the latest design concepts. A design process considering all of the preceding topics, and involving the key personnel as development begins, will ensure creation of a clean and useful HMI experience.
About the Author
Bill Dehner has spent the majority of his fourteen-year engineer- ing career designing and installing industrial control systems for the Oil and Gas, Power, and Package Handling industries. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering
with an associate’s in Avionics from the USAF and is currently working for AutomationDirect as a techni- cal marketing engineer.
 Go to Article
Editor's Note
New Product Focus
- Expaded communications and analog I/O capabilities for the
- Control cabinet cable entry systems
- DURApulse® GS20 Series high performance AC drives
- ProSense® Advanced Process Conrollers
- Enclosure Thermoelectric Coolers
Tech Thread
Improvies, Adapt, Overcome
Business Notes
Cover Story
The Best Automation HMIs Keep Things Simple
What's New
User Solutions
- Water Utility Successfully Standardizes Automation Practices
- Automating the Hendrick's Gin Grand Garnisher
Student Spotlight
CPAPs RE-INVENT ed into Ventilators Using PLCs & HMIs
Break Room
         Brain Teasers | Issue 44

   13   14   15   16   17