Your HMI is Probably Capable of More Than You Use It For
We are often left scratching our heads in wonder at the ways in which the HMIs on control panels we design, build, install, and start up in conveyor handling control systems are under employed. If the conveyor system components were having a birthday party, the HMI would be the component that doesn’t get the invitation.
There are certain HMI capabilities that are included with just about every panel we produce, such as:
- Manual controls for maintenance – for example, every motor can be put in operator mode for the purpose of checking on their function.
- Color schemes to identify the source of a problem – we use red for an E-stop, orange for a jam, and blue for a lane full condition, and it’s all visible on the HMI screen. Far too often, operators will call in maintenance without first checking the HMI, which could identify a very easily resolvable problem.
- I/O Faceplates – the HMI can be used by maintenance to determine the source of a malfunction by seeing which input or output is flagged.
Some clients use these and other HMI capabilities very effectively, but others don’t invest in the training to take advantage of these very simple tools. If you’re in that category, you are sacrificing efficiency and profitability every day, and not taking full advantage of your investment in automation.
Those are the more basic possibilities. We can also program some very powerful capabilities that can help you take your facility to another level of efficiency. We have a list of things we can do for your system that you can use to analyze your operation to identify opportunities for simple improvements that can yield big results.
For example, how useful would it be to be able to:
- get preventative maintenance reminder notifications from your HMI?
- use the HMI on your control panel to get an hourly box count by lane?
- get a count of the number of packages sorted per lane each hour?
- get data on how long each lane is full?
These are just a few simple ideas, but there are many more.
We like to say that if you can imagine it, we can automate it. In the context of the HMI, you might be surprised at what you can get if you take some time to come up with your wish list. Or even if you just ask us what the possibilities are.