Selecting The Right HMI

Choosing the Right HMI

Today’s HMI (Human Machine Interface) products offer many features and benefits for you to consider when you’re trying to determine the hardware that you should be using in a specific machine design. Because of the many specific features available in todays product offerings , choosing the right one can often be a daunting task. There are many characteristics that define each HMI’s functionality and capabilities; no one model meets the needs of every user.

Determining Your Physical Requirements

When you’re getting started, you should first consider the physical aspects of your application’s requirements. HMIs range in size from 3 to 21 inches, and it’s important to determine the amount of space on your machine that can be devoted to operator interface. Ensuring that the screen fits the enclosure is tantamount.

Typically, machine operators desire larger, easier-to-read screens, but your budget may steer you to a more compact version. You must also consider whether you wish to provide your operator with a color or monotone screen. Monotone screens typically cost less, and may be better fits with some design applications.

Finally, which NEMA rating will you need when making your selection? For most applications, choosing a NEMA 4 or NEMA 4X device will ensure that your selection will hold up in the most demanding of installation locations.

HMI Electrical & Communications Requirements

In addition to considering physical requirements, you must also account for electrical and communication details of your HMI. What are the power consumption ratings of the HMI you are considering? Does your power supply support the HMI and the additional components that are connected to your power source?

Most HMI manufacturers supply drivers that allow for the use of PLCs from many different brands. Even so, you should always check to make sure that your specific model supports the protocol you intend to run — before you make your final decision. If you haven’t yet decided whether to use a standalone PLC, you may also want to consider one of the many HMI designs that include onboard PLC (Industrial PCs) functionality. These devices allow you to minimize the number of  mounting, connection and integration considerations that inherently accompany the use of separate components.


For additional questions regarding HMI selection or other automation and control products, please comment below or contact us using the form on this page.

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Greg Finley
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