The Evolution of Industrial HMI: How Smart Automation will Deliver Measureable Productivity Benefits


Admittedly, the progress in HMIusability and functionality has not been as rapid in industrial automation as in the consumer world. But the past decade has witnessed considerable advancement in the integration of more powerful HMIs in manufacturing environments! The reason for this is simple: Today users in industrial environments expect HMIs to provide a similarly intuitive touch experience as their beloved smart phones. A research report titled “Human Machine Interface (HMI) Solutions: A Global Strategic Business Report” announced by Global Industry Analysts Inc., provides some interesting numbers: The global market for Human Machine Interface (HMI) Solutions is projected to exceed US$5.0 billion by 2020, driven by technology advancements, robust demand from end-use industries, and strong growth in industrial automation. The need for easy-to-use, safe and intuitive user interface systems in handling complex industrial machinery is spurring demand for advanced HMI solutions. The emergence of the industrial Internet of things (IIoT) is forecast to fuel the trend further. So what recently was seemingly impossible to achieve on the factory floor is quickly becoming reality: previously fragmented and disparate systems become increasingly integrated and interconnected on more functional and interoperable platforms. So without any doubt, the Industrial IoT continues to permeate the plant floor, HMIs will be instrumental in enabling Smart Automation to fulfill its maximum potential!


The IoT demands extensive HMI data visualization capabilities providing clear visibility into even the most inaccessible areas

The Industrial IoT led transformation of industrial automation to Smart Automation highlights the critical need for a more holistic, scalable and interoperable approach. With this, end users can realize maximum ROIs from their legacy, current and future industrial systems infrastructures and plant. Therefore it is necessary to develop and design more advanced, totally integrated HMI solutions with data visualization capabilities providing clear visibility into even the most inaccessible areas. For maximizing lifecycle management and for ensuring low total cost of ownership (TCO), these next generation HMIs will need to provide a large choice of connectivity options to suit all Smart Automation requirements while allowing easy upgrade paths for taking advantage of future generation processor, graphics and mass storage technologies. And they must also provide users with the ability to more closely supervise production and respond to changing production demands with absolute precision. Real-time insights into the status of plant and machinery, will lead to improved user productivity and diagnostics, which in turn will reduce risk of system failure and unplanned downtime.


Enhanced control of factory production, increased operational efficiencies, and optimized computing performance

Streamlining operations through single access points will become essential for improving timely decision making as well as speed and accuracy, resulting in enhanced control of factory production, increased operational efficiencies, and optimized computing performance for production data analysis. In addition, as the Industrial IoT massively increases the number of data points, both locally and remotely, HMIs must be capable of securely sending Operational Technology (OT) data from the plant floor to Cloud and Enterprise IT systems. And last but not least, it will become a prerequisite for HMIs to integrate the latest processors offering the performance-per-watt ratios required to minimize heat and eliminate the need for active fan cooling. New HMI designs even employ SuperCaps for real-time clock (RTC) back-up instead of batteries


Summary of HMI Design Requirements for Smart Automation (Industrial IoT):

  • High reliability

  • Wartungsfrei (maintenance-free) – no rotating parts, no batteries

  • Forever Young: Scalable, easy to upgrade to next gen processors

  • Modularity for easy customization, private labeling

  • Long term availability, investment protection

  • 24/7 operation

  • Adherence to standard user interfaces

  • High shock and vibration resistance

As part of its ongoing R&D program, Kontron has designed a totally new family of HMI solutions, a crucial part of the company’s Industrial Computer Platform strategy. The Kontron FusionClient is a robust, scalable HMI solution based on the company’s approach to HMI design and Smart Automation. If you are interested in more detailed information, please visit:

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