This guest post was authored by Paul Gruhn, a global functional safety consultant at aeSolutions in Houston, Tex.

Poor HMI designs have been identified as factors contributing to abnormal situations, billions of dollars of lost production, accidents, and fatalities. Many HMIs actually impede rather than assist operators. Many of the poor designs are holdovers due to the limitations of early control systems and the lack of knowledge of system designers. However, with the advent of newer and more powerful systems, these limitations no longer apply. Also, decades of research has identified better implementation methods. Unfortunately, change is difficult and people continue to follow poor design practices. In fact, some new designs are actually worse than older designs! Just as a computer is not a typewriter, new HMI designs should not mimic those of old. The problem is that many designers often simply don’t know any better. This article will review why certain HMI designs are poor (with many examples) and show how they can be improved.

Free Article Bonus: To read the full article on HMI design, click here.

About the Author
Paul Gruhn is a global functional safety consultant at AE Solutions and a highly respected and awarded safety expert in the industrial automation and control field. Paul is an ISA Fellow, a member of the ISA84 standards committee (on safety instrumented systems), a developer and instructor of ISA courses on safety systems, and the primary author of the ISA book Safety Instrumented Systems: Design, Analysis, and Justification. He also has contributed to several automation industry book chapters and has written more than two dozen technical articles. He developed the first commercial safety system modeling software. Paul is a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in Texas, a certified functional safety expert (CFSE), a member of the control system engineer PE exam team, and an ISA84 expert. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Paul is the 2018 ISA president-elect/secretary.

 

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