They have always been established as the best way of providing up to the minute information about processes, and it didn’t take long for users to realise that there is more to HMIs as the data held within controllers and HMIs was a goldmine that could help them maximise efficiency and minimise down-time.
To make the best use of this data you need two things:
A: The ability to collect and store it
B: The ability to quickly access and understand the data that has been collected.
Alarm handling in its many varieties helps operators and maintenance staff quickly pinpoint a problem when something goes wrong, but if you really want to get the most out of alarm data you also need additional information apart from simply a description, date and time.
To that end now the smart system builders build in functionality that requires operators to qualify an alarm before they can clear or acknowledge it, thereby providing a means of measuring common reasons for faults on a production line such as product jams, lack of product or other issues. Historically this type of information would be collected using a PC-based SCADA system, however these days even the smallest of HMIs is able to handle alarms and data logging.
Having collected data the next question is what you do with it in order that you can make critical business decisions based on hard facts rather than hunches. The data can also be used to hone the efficiency of production facilities by highlighting waste and bottlenecks. Connectivity such as FTP and MES are now embedded as standard in Mitsubishi Electric’s GOT HMIs, making it really easy to send reports to a manager’s desktop automatically or in the event of a problem. By analysing alarm data in a timely manner operators and managers can pre-empt problems with a process, saving valuable time and money by avoiding costly down-time.
The development of HMI technology over recent years has now made data collection and analysis even more affordable than ever opening up the possibilities for uses to capitalise on the IIoT to reduce costs and waste as well as provide peace of mind for the owners and operator of manufacturing plants and processes.