Streamline Manufacturing with the Right HMI

May 24, 2024 3:29:00 PM / by David Crowley


In manufacturing, the human-machine interface (HMI) connects workers to the machines they use. It allows them to operate, monitor, and manage machinery and processes. In the early days of manufacturing, HMIs consisted of knobs, switches, dials, or push buttons. Modern HMIs can include control panels, software, display screens, and connections that enable users to exchange information with multiple pieces of equipment from a single location. The right HMI can help manufacturers increase efficiency, save time and money, and support their workers’ health and safety.

Benefits of Modern HMI

Today’s HMIs give manufacturers more control over and insight into manufacturing equipment and processes than ever before. Beyond allowing users to control how machinery operates, they also utilize specialized sensors to provide vital information about equipment activities, metrics, and performance. They can help users access schematics, troubleshoot issues, and understand when maintenance is needed. When integrated with a manufacturing execution system (MES), they can provide logistical insights and support data analysis that helps managers pinpoint bottlenecks and inefficiencies and streamline workflows.

Simplified & Centralized Control

Modern HMI systems can improve operations in multiple ways. Simplifying control over manufacturing equipment supports worker safety and makes it easier to train new operators. Because information about processes, activities, productivity, and machine performance can be viewed in a single display, it also allows manufacturers to improve quality control, verify product compliance, and implement predictive maintenance programs.

Continuous Connection

The latest HMI technology integrates with the internet of things (IoT), supporting seamless communication among machines, sensors, and software. This allows for continuous monitoring and data analysis that empowers better informed decision-making. Displays communicate data in easy-to-read charts and reports, and instant alerts can notify key personnel when immediate corrective action is needed. The system can even create documentation that can be used to audit processes and verify compliance with industry regulations and safety standards.

What to Look for in a Manufacturing HMI

To get the most out of a manufacturing HMI, it’s important to look for some key features.

Ease of Use

The best system for your operation will integrate seamlessly with existing equipment and be easy for employees to learn and use. Displays should be clear and easy to understand, so workers can respond quickly and appropriately to the information they provide. Additionally, make sure the vendor will be there to answer questions and provide the support you need after the sale. You don’t want to be left to figure out hiccups in the implementation process on your own.

Security & Durability

While the IoT makes it easy to connect and gather information from multiple devices, it also creates vulnerabilities. Protect your systems from hackers by ensuring they include robust security features. Users should have unique login credentials that can be used to track actions and ensure accountability. In addition to protecting your interface from cybercriminals, it’s also important to protect it from the harsh manufacturing environment. Ensure the equipment features a durable construction that allows it to stand up to conditions in your facility.

Tracking of Efficiency Data

One of the most important benefits of an HMI is its ability to bring together the information manufacturers need to keep everything running smoothly and efficiently. To get the most value out of an HMI, make sure it’s able to track efficiency data in your facility. This will allow you to optimize resource allocation and reduce waste.


A new HMI should be able to grow with your business. Implementing a new manufacturing system requires a significant investment of both time and money, so it’s important to choose an HMI that will be able to support your operation over the long term. Before purchasing, make sure you understand the capacity of an HMI to accommodate additional machines and emerging technologies.

Advantages of PlantStar HMI

PlantStar's HMI is an easy-to-use, scalable solution for today’s manufacturing facilities. It features a 15” touchscreen monitor (larger screen size available) and the capacity to add a large overhead display for plant-wide viewing of critical data. It integrates seamlessly with the PlantStar MES, giving manufacturers unprecedented real-time insight into and control over processes throughout the facility. Below are some of PlantStar’s important benefits:

  • Ability to log scrap and downtime
  • Storage of job setup sheets that provide critical information to users about running jobs, product standards, and more, replacing extensive and cumbersome paperwork
  • Ability to view end-to-end job data for each machine, including which jobs are running, their completion status, and whether they’re on track to meet deadlines 
  • Enables operators to request assistance at any time from any device
  • Display of equipment operation data, including OEE, rejects, process exceptions, and downtime
  • Ability to integrate bar code scanning, label printing and even weigh scales.
  • Scalability to meet evolving needs

PlantStar HMI

PlantStar's technology provides manufacturers complete data insight, enabling data-driven decisions that optimize operations. To learn more about how to increase efficiency, safety, and productivity in your facility, subscribe to the SYSCON's blog.