Automation HMI-Mobile Reliability & Maintenance Center

Advances Improve HMI Alarm Response

EP Editorial Staff | July 20, 2020

Modern HMI software can help operators make rapid and informed decisions when alarms occur.

An HMI (human machine interface) alarm is often the first indication for production personnel that something is wrong on the plant floor.

The quality of information that the alarm provides can have a direct impact on how quickly workers understand and respond to the problem. That is one of the reasons industrial operations are turning to HMI software that integrates into their production systems. The software uses several features to provide workers with reliable visibility into critical conditions and help them quickly identify and respond to issues. Here are features to look for when considering advanced HMI software.

Mobile notifications

One benefit of today’s more-connected plants is the ability to untether workers from HMIs. This allows workers to be almost anywhere and have access to vital production information. Modern HMI software can notify workers when alarms happen using text, email, or smartphone alerts. You can also configure the software to escalate alarm notifications. For example, if an operator doesn’t respond to a traditional HMI alarm alert or text message, or if conditions worsen, the software can then send text messages to the maintenance team and plant manager.

Device-based alarms

Traditional HMI tag-based alarms are effective but have some disadvantages. As an example, alarm tags must be configured in the HMI and the controller. Alarm timestamps are also delayed, because they are applied by the HMI after polling and processing, rather than immediately when the alarm occurs.

Modern HMI software integrates directly with the controller and allows use of device-based alarms. These alarms are detected and managed in the controller, which means alarms are created once, in the controller, and alarm timestamps are applied immediately, rather than delayed until the alarms reach the HMI server.

Associated tags

After an alarm occurs, technicians shouldn’t need to spend precious time digging backward to understand the operating state at the time the alarm was triggered. A modern HMI uses associated tags to instantly provide that information. The tags include process data with event information and alarm messages.

Benefits to the bottom line

Modern HMI software can help improve alarm-response times in other ways. It can provide user-friendly interfaces that make it easy to detect abnormal situations by highlighting items such as alarm conditions that need a worker’s attention. It allows a worker to filter the system alarms, so they see only the alarms that are important to them. It also offers multi-language support that allows workers to view information, including alarm messages, in their preferred language. EP

Learn more about how a modern HMI can help improve alarm-response times from Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, at this URL.

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