Worked for a company building some specialized welding equiptment. Went from a keyboard type parameter entry to a HMI. At first it was thought that the operators would have a problem, but the operators all loved it. Advantage was the amount of data displayed and the ease of moving from parameter set to paramenter set.
The Touch Panel HMI's are very durable and hold up well in less than ideal environments. And the more expensive units are not necesarily the better ones. We used 2 different suppliers and the more expensive PLCs/HMIs did not give better performance.
It did require some re-design of the operator controls - We were able to replace potentiometers with a small CTS encoder through standard I/O (cut costs because we didn't need the analog inputs) and allowed us to save all weld parameters, The operator could turn an encoder or key in a number to change a setting.
Wish the touch panel were more available for PC's as it makes a really nice way to communicate with the machine.
The biggest problem with an HMI is the tendancy to put too much info and too much clutter on the display. A too busy screen is harder to use than a simpler, locgically arranged display. Too often the display has little relationship to what the process is, it was made to look pretty, not function pretty.
Good point, Scott. I've heart anecdotal information about young engineers becoming more attracted to automation and control because of video-game-like presentations that make the idea of hanging out in a plant more attractive.
Interesting graph on the reasons why designers would want multi-touch. One of the big ones being for people who have grown up with those technologies. The thing is, I was doing HMI design with resistive touch prior to Apple's development. It was the old-timers that were tryint to slide switches or push two buttons at the same time (with, of course, some real interesting results).
Interesting conversational thread. It's hard to image a generation of machine operators flocking to equipment because they have a cool HMI. People are very adaptable and graphic presentations have a way of presenting very data rich information in way that is easy assimilated. A good (and efficient) thing for all generations.
Rob, Charles, I disagree that the "generational" aspect has to do with people.
This article used pie charts and bar graphs to relate information to us. Mr. Fresher also put those percentages into text form in his paragraphs. Which method for conveying information was more useful, more intuitive, more quickly absorbed? We're inherently visual animals, and can take in a situation with a single glance at an overall image. Text is serial, one piece of information at a time.
It's not because younger engineers necessarily expect such interfaces, but the fact that they are simply more useful, more efficient.
If we placed two identical manufacturing machines side by side, with only the HMI being different (one with a text-only interface, one with a rich graphical interface), which operator and machine would be more productive? Want to place a bet? The text-based interface will take up more of an operator's time.
Yes, 32.3% is a big piece of the pie, and it's directly called out as a generational issue. You could also make a case that the other pieces of the pie -- ability to zoom, keyboardless, more intuitive -- are at least partially age-related issues, even though they're not called out as such.
Yes, there is a clear generational shift here. I was surprised by the size of the pie that related to age when it came to HMI. That may be a function of a growing number of young engineers entering the workforce.
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