Saturday, January 8, 2011

Smaller HMI Hardware for Tight Spaces

When it comes to HMI (Human Machine Interface) technology, your options are wide open. You can buy HMI hardware. In most any form factor you want and you can buy or build incredibly versatile HMI software for next to nothing or at the very least, for a very reasonable price. As ARC Advisory Group points out in a recent study, the pure play HMI software market remains saturated as HMI application approach commodity status.

There is something for everyone, from handheld wireless devices to machine mountable Windows CE or embedded OS based devices to flar panel touch screens and large computer based HMIs at the hardware level. While flat panel screens are just beginning to take hold in the consumer market, they have already gained a lot of ground on the manufacturing floor. Reason: they take up a lot of less space than CRTs, are easy to build protective cabinetry around, and are immune to electromagnetic and electrostatic fields.

We will look at some of newest HMI software and hardware technologies available for industrial and process applications.

An HMI for a PLC does not have to be large and complicated. A small character based device often can fill the bill quite nicely. For instance, Spectrum Controls SOI-260, which works with most major PLCs and provides communications for ODVA’s DeviceNet, Simatic S5, Modbus, Square D SY/MAX, IDEC’s FA Series, Omron’s Hostlink, and TI’s 405. The SOI-260 is also available in an intrinsically safe model for use in explosive environments. This HMI provides menu screens that can be linked to provide a complete set of instructions for the operator to follow. It also supports access or point display, which allows access to the entire data register table within a PLC for troubleshooting and debugging. The SOI-260LC has a 4 line x 20 character LCD with LED backlight display and a 10:1 contrast ratio.

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