The Revolution of Cloud Based Human Machine Interfaces
In order to understand any revolution, we must look at the history of the subject matter. Since the dawn of trading goods with other tribes, humans have been trying to improve the way their customers receive goods.
When the Industrial revolution started with steam powered machines that could do the work of multiple human beings and work longer, companies have grown and thrived under the different technological advances that the growth of the industrial revolution has continued. There have been three industrial revolutions and we are currently in the beginning of the fourth, aptly named Industry 4.0.
HMI is defined as Human Machine Interface and takes user interface in a manufacturing setting to the next level. They’ve been used as a graphics based visualization of the whole system and monitoring software. This began during the third industrial revolution when we started using machines to manufacture and assemble products.
First and Second Industrial Revolution
The first two industrial revolutions set us up to make leaps of improvements in the final two revolutions. These two included the creation of steam powered machines to help in our everyday world, then we harnessed electricity and machines became household staples. In industrial applications, these two revolutions created work for many people by setting up assembly lines and manufacturing processes.
Third Industrial Revolution
Then came the advance of computers and industrial applications exploded once more as computers started gathering and analyzing data through supervisory control and data acquisition, SCADA, software development.
This allowed HMI to really take hold, because someone needed to monitor the operations and analyze the data to make major decisions about production. Manufacturing took on a whole new look, with machines busily operating twenty-four hours a day and our ability to reduce the cost of once luxury items through this process meant that consumers could now afford to have luxuries they never dreamed of having.
So, they bought more and more, and manufacturing companies realized the need to do more for less. Then cloud based computing became a reality and the fourth industrial revolution started.
How HMI Used to Look
Human Machine Interface used to be called Man Machine Interface, (MMI). Thankfully, it was changed to be genderless. It’s most often an office based Windows computer that interacts with all the machines in a manufacturing environment. It would collect information from the programmable automation controllers, PACs, the programmable logic controllers, PLCs, or distributed control systems, DCSs and do minor algorithms to make small decisions.
Like controlling the temperature of a boiler within a human determined parameter. It would be able to display what machines were working or what valves were closed and opened. It would also tell the operator if things weren’t going well with alarms and visual cues.
It started out with lightbulbs and start buttons with a few levers to graphically display what was happening on the manufacturing or assembly floor. We’ve since grown to have touch screen, intricately detailed schematics that change in real time. Now, we are getting ready to take the next step in that evolution.
Industry 4.0 – Fourth Time’s a Charm
In 2011, Xun Xu, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Auckland, wrote an abstract on the transition from cloud computing to cloud manufacturing. He posited that the Internet of Things, HMI, and the cloud would soon be the way of the future.
Since then, companies have been creating software that utilizes the IoT to oversee all the manufacturing processes including SCADA and HMI. The HMI has become more sophisticated and targeted because of this new development. Utilizing all that data to produce deeper understanding of what’s happening on a global level will make manufacturing even more productive and the search for the holy grail of perfect industrialization will be closer to being achieved.
What Does It All Mean?
It means that companies who embrace the cloud manufacturing environment will be able to increase their production, reduce their costs, and deliver higher quality products to their customers. HMI in the cloud based world will be more involved than ever before. Because now, every work-related action of employees from inception to end product will be evaluated through Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) that will run much more involved algorithms that will help manufacturers make better decisions, even reducing costs by empowering machines to make deeper decisions based on the totality of data.
This will allow human being to work on the more involved issues that will naturally come to light. The information manufacturing has to analyze, the better producing, easier maintenance, and cost-effective processes will be integrated into the experience.
The fourth revolution of cloud based human machine interfacing is already here. Companies are becoming early adopters of software that will allow them to become leaders in their industry. It’s just a matter of time before the industry is fully using cloud based technology to bring goods and services to those who need them.
Because manufacturers are able to rapidly manufacture new products, dynamically respond to the demands for their product, and utilize real time optimization of their manufacturing or assembling production. The whole supply chain with be improved through networking all the machinery and human machine interfaces. What did you think of this article? Leave us a comment below.