6 tips for a modern HMI
The features of an industrial product are nowhere as tangible and tangible for users as at the HMI. This is where users interact with the product. Operation is therefore a strategically important product feature and the key to success. But what characterizes a modern, successful HMI? We give you 6 tips for an inspiring user experience.
#1 WITH HUMAN-CENTERED DESIGN TO INTUITIVE OPERATION
The key to intuitive operation is to optimally adapt the HMI to the users and their needs. The human-centred design process helps here because it consistently involves the users in the development and first analyses the context of use: What are the users' requirements and goals? What are their work tasks? How does the environment - for example, noise and lighting conditions in the production hall - influence the interaction with the product? The insights gained serve as the basis for the UI design. The concepts and designs should be tested iteratively with users. The earlier problems in the interaction are discovered, the easier they are to solve. At the same time, usage tests ensure acceptance by the later target group.
An HMI design that is adapted to the users brings clear economic advantages: The better HMIs are tailored to the context of use, the more effectively and efficiently users work with a product. This avoids unnecessary errors and reduces downtime. Some of our customers have been able to increase the productivity and efficiency of their users by 20 to 30 percent through usability measures. Good usability can also reduce the cost of training and further education by more than half. Intuitive products are quick and easy to learn.
#2 CONSUMER GOODS AS A BENCHMARK
Self-explanatory, easy to use, attractive, motivating and responsive - this is what users of applications are used to in their private lives. They transfer these experiences from the consumer sector to the working world. B2C products thus set the benchmark for industrial interfaces. HMI design for capital goods must be measured against them.
In times of functionally similar products, the user experience plays an increasingly important role. A product and its HMI must also appeal to and motivate users emotionally. After all, positive experiences make it fun and enjoyable to use. It is not only employees who benefit from this. Employees who feel good in their job are more motivated, more committed and perform better. This is also shown in the study "Emotional Design for HMIs" by the Stuttgart Media University and UID GmbH. According to the study, creative, collaborative and instructive activities have a positive influence on the employees' well-being, experience of competence and thus on their performance.
#3 BRINGING VALUE TO THE SURFACE WITH A BRAND-TYPICAL DESIGN
Besides technical and functional excellence, design has become an important criterion. Not only consumer products must be visually appealing. Machine operators also expect an attractive state-of-the-art user interface. After all, the user interface is the face of the machine. An attractive HMI contributes significantly to the satisfaction of the machine operator. Today, employees spend a large part of their time using technologies such as software to do their work. It is therefore all the more important that working with machines conveys a positive feeling and modernity. With a visually appealing user interface, the machine becomes an attractive workplace - which is becoming increasingly important in times of a shortage of skilled workers.
Machine manufacturers can therefore stand out from the competition with an excellent design. Particularly in the case of technically similar products, the design can be the deciding factor for the purchase decision - or at least help determine which manufacturer is shortlisted. Because design can usually be assessed more quickly than technical details. Decision-makers often do not have the time to think about the machine down to the smallest technical detail. However, they can usually assess whether a design is convincing ad hoc. A distinctive, brand-typical aesthetic is also a promise of quality: it brings the value and aspirations of a product to the surface. A modern HMI gives users, but also decision-makers, the feeling that the machine is state-of-the-art. Conversely, this means that a machine with innovative functions needs an appealing HMI design - otherwise technical progress and visual appearance do not go hand in hand.
#4 WELL EQUIPPED FOR MODERN HMIS WITH WEAVING TECHNOLOGIES
In addition to the design, the technology used must also meet the requirements of a modern HMI. There is a clear trend in machine and plant construction: away from the individual machine towards comprehensive machine and device-spanning ecosystems. These usually consist of locally distributed and networked hardware, software and value-added services. Customers therefore expect applications to be available on different systems - be it on fixed displays on the machine, desktop workstations or mobile devices. Unfortunately, this is not possible with every technology.
Web technologies are ideally equipped to meet these requirements. They have a particular strength: they come with tools and solutions for even complex responsive designs. Moreover, they can be displayed on any operating system. Web HMIs can be used in the browser or in the web view of an application not programmed with HTML5 without any problems on different operating systems and devices - whether Android smartphone, Apple tablet, Windows industrial PC or Linux-based control station.
But how can manufacturers best port their existing application from .NET, Qt or another technology to HTML5? Our white paper provides you with four building blocks. With these, manufacturers can develop a strategy to reuse as many components of their existing application as possible and port their application as quickly and efficiently as possible.
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#5 USE AND CUSTOMISE HMI TOOLKITS
Visualisation solutions help to design intuitive, attractive and responsive HMIs. With these, user interfaces can be created quickly, easily and without programming knowledge. Predefined control elements can be arranged and adapted individually via drag & drop, as in a modular system. These include standard widgets such as buttons, selection boxes, as well as extended gauges and value displays. Even sophisticated widgets such as alarm lists, trend displays and recipe editors are included as standard. Whether font, colour, size or behaviour - machine builders can adapt the look & feel of the prefabricated widgets to their corporate design via the comprehensive parameterisation dialogues. For individual functions and design requirements, own customised HMI controls, themes and widgets can be created and integrated. In this way, visualisation solutions combine individuality with the flexibility of a standard tool.
#6 THINKING BEYOND THE INDIVIDUAL HMI
Successful digital companies think and act in digital ecosystems. Such ecosystems turn companies into successful brands, innovation and market leaders - as Google, Apple, Amazon & Co. prove. But not only the B2C global players, but also B2B companies can build their own digital universes - ctrlX World is the best example of this.
Machine builders must therefore take a holistic view from the individual HMI to all user touch points with the product, the brand and the company. Digital services in particular open up new opportunities: they allow long-lasting hardware products to remain flexibly expandable. With digital service models, machine manufacturers create relevant added value around a product for their customers. New growth markets can be opened up with modern and easily scalable business models. In the course of the digital transformation, machine builders are transforming themselves from pure hardware manufacturers to digital service companies.
A well-designed HMI combines intuitive operation with unique aesthetics, modern technologies and forms of interaction. In the conception, design and implementation of the HMI, the focus should always be on the users with their needs, tasks and contexts of use. This results in functionally reliable, productive and motivating HMIs that set standards in the competition and can be easily integrated into networked ecosystems.