Human Computer Interface


A poorly implemented Human-Machine interface (HMI) adds to workload, increases frustration, stress, and confusion, and can ultimately impact safety, reliability, production, and profitability. A properly implemented human-computer interface can reduce operator work load, improve situational awareness, and aid the operator in preventing minor deviations from becoming major incidents.

A properly implemented Human-Machine interface will also work hand in hand with alarm management initiatives. Better presentation of information to the operator improves overall situation awareness. This helps offset the perception operators frequently have that elimination of alarms from the DCS will reduce their ability track the status of the plant.

Recent research has identified that well implemented human-machine interface can improve operator performance in problem detection and resolution by as much as 25%. This reduces the amount of time the plant is running at less than optimal efficiency, thus improving the bottom line. This also reduces operator stress and improves employee relationships.

Does the following seem familiar?

  • Your operators claim they need 10 screens to operate the plant

  • Your graphics look cluttered

  • Your graphics are more colorful than a carnival

  • During an abnormal situation are your operators rapidly jumping between screens searching for the information they need

  • Your graphics developed page-for-page from the P&ID’s

  • Your graphics do not incorporate the latest research into cognitive processing

Service Description

We schedule a site visit to evaluate the human-machine interface system. Typically, one or two representatives of User Centered Design Services visit the site for three days. During the visit UCDS performs interviews with multiple representatives of those departments involved in the management, implementation, use, and maintenance of the human-computer interface. This typically includes: Senior Management, Department Management, Instrument Engineers, Instrument Supervisors and Technicians, Process Engineers, Training Supervisors, Trainers, Procedure Writers, Control System Engineers and Technicians, Operations Supervision (all levels,) Field and Console Operators, Health and Safety, and Process Safety Management.

Following the site visit we generate a report detailing the current state of the site human-computer interface along with identifying specific gaps versus Best Practices.


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