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Apr 4, 2013

Using HMIs for Fast User Input

There are many ways that a plant attaches information to a certain product. They can use tracking systems, like Trolley Vision®, or barcode scanners to link certain information to a product as it passes by, but this information isn’t always automatic.

Sometimes it is necessary for a user to input certain info like product codes, grading selections, lot numbers, etc. The only way to link this information with the product and the various machine inputs, like scale data, is by using a Human Machine Interface or HMI.

washdown computer

SDS HMI Controller

An HMI is the combination of an industrial computer, stainless steel enclosure, and an intuitive software package. It is the most secure, protected way of allowing your employees to enter necessary information on the floor.

The stainless steel enclosure protects the HMI from dust, water, corrosion, and even temperature with the optional addition of heaters and cooling units.

The HMIs are built to be watertight, so that they are NEMA 4X rated when the enclosure is closed.

The industrial computer housed inside is a step above the average computer. It is composed of stronger high quality components to ensure the life of the HMI.

washdown computer


With all of the incoming data streams/strings that the HMI is responsible for handling, the industrial computer housed in the HMI is also often equipped with more serial ports than a standard PC.

Most scale and scanner outputs use serial ports to transmit data.

The software options available are completely customizable, so that you can run the necessary processes without many issues. Options for touchscreens allow users to more easily input data or make grading decisions.

Don’t leave your computer exposed on the plant floor or far away in an office.

Look into HMIs to improve your work flow today!

SDS Industrial Controller

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Apr 4, 2013

Considerations to be Given to Human Machine Interface Selection

What Considerations Should be Given to Human Machine Interface Selection?

SDS HMIwashdown computer

SDS HMI Controller

One of those is the type of environment it is to be located in.

Stainless steel is typically the material of cabinet choice for areas of abuse and exposure to problematic elements.

Elements such as moisture or invasive dust are common causes of electronics failure in industrial settings. 

Although equipment protection is a vital criteria, you should include the aspect of  long term maintainability and accessibility with protection.

As technology changes occur, such as in the area of touchscreens, good cabinet design should be able to adapt to such changes and needs in the fight against built in obsolescence and provide the same level of environmental protection.

Care should be given to the ease of access to the internal workings of the Human Machine Interface (HMI).

Most commonly, incorporation of an industrial rated personal computer is the brain behind the curtain (or colored touchscreen).

The inclusion of a battery power back up and power surge protection are also integral items for consideration.

Where necessary, all access points, to include the necessary electrical or electronic cabling should be water tight to inhibit the possibility of such ingress.

Having considered desirable structural features next, direct you attention to the facts of operational goals and needs.

The purpose of an HMI is to increase functionality, control, and ease of plant operations.

For example, a Scale Data System can be designed to provide instructions and directions on the screen either through graphical display, text, or a combination of both.

The great advantage of graphical displays is the bypass of language problems sometimes associated with employee training.

Graphical display of actions and equipment response indications provide a user friendly environment.

Needed eminent attention or problem resolution or suggestions can be introduced as well.

In the case of text direction, HMI screens can be configured with the touch of a button.

Operators can be prompted and action directed by a scale data system HMI as resulting weight measurements accomplished.

No process would be complete with out a good trail of documentation. Here again, give consideration to what you desire in the way of reports .

Keep in mind that what is decided today could require changes tomorrow. Thus, one of the most valuable considerations in the end, is serviceability after the sale.

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SDS Industrial Controller

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Apr 3, 2013

Improving Your Plant With Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs)

Whenever you have any human input in a plant, you are going to wish you had some sort of human machine interface (HMI). HMIs put control of the processes in the hands of the people who can monitor them from the floor.

Whether you use a grading station or need to be able to make adjustments to scale inputs, an HMI is the best way to do this.

washdown computer

SDS HMI Controller

HMIs allow users to have simple, easy-to-learn controls for the processes that they manage, and they provide a natural input system with a touchscreen interface.

They are protected from all the elements by both stainless steel enclosures and robust, industrial computer design as well.

HMIs are equipped with a number of serial ports, allowing you to connect various equipment and machines to a single HMI.

These make things easier for the people monitoring processes on the floor to do their job, but they can also be highly beneficial to the people in charge of running the operation as well.

washdown computer


HMIs are used primarily for entering data, but they are also helpful in relaying the information that passes through them to production management. The information that they get from these HMIs can come from a variety of different machines that send data to the HMI. This allows them to manage the processes in a more efficient manner.

Profit or loss can vary on a slim margin of data, so accumulating the most accurate information is extremely important, and getting it from an HMI is the fastest way to make this work.

The quality of the information from an HMI allows management to make adjustments to areas of production that are lacking, saving them expenses and opportunity costs.

Before HMIs, this data was being recorded on paper and clipboard, which wasted a tremendous amount of time and was far less efficient.

By using an HMI, you speed up this data process, allowing plants to run at faster production speeds.

Don’t waste your time entering and gathering information the old-fashioned way! Invest in a quality HMI.

SDS Industrial Controller

SDS Industrial Controller

See our Touchscreen HMI Controllers

Apr 3, 2013

Interfacing With Computers in Harsh Environments

With many automated processes, there is still a need for digital user inputs and monitoring, but it isn’t very ergonomic to do all of this from an office computer far away from the automated system being monitored.

The best solution to this issue is installing HMIs on your automated systems.

These human machine interfaces allow users to see and interact with processes via a computer interface.

Having an HMI means that you can easily keep track of products, assign grading data and other important information, and check to see that systems are functioning in an ideal fashion.

washdown computer

Washdown Computer with Stainless Steel Enclosure

This allows you to make necessary observations and adjustments from the plant floor. The only problem is that the floor environment can be hazardous to computer equipment.

This is solved in several ways.

The first is offering these HMIs as a washdown-ready, element-resistant enclosure.

We offer two main varieties of HMIs this way. The more economical option is simply a computer placed inside of a stainless steel enclosure that can be sealed to protect thecontents.

The more high end option is an SDS-5000 touchscreen interface where the computer is sealed inside an enclosure that allows an easy, intuitive interface while also offering more environmental protection and the ability to keep employees from messing around with the computer components.

Another thing that is integral to a good HMI is the software and operating system that it runs.

Our HMIs use an embedded form of Windows® 7 that strips unnecessary functions for running plant software, making it faster and preventing employees from accidentally accessing irrelevant programs.

Another perk of an embedded OS is that it is incredibly easy to restore it to its original state if problems arise or if the computer contracts a virus. You simply unplug, replug, and reboot the system, and it should function like new.

washdown computer

Lastly, the components that run the HMI are very important. For this reason, we design and use industrial computers that are more robust than your average PC. They use more heavy duty components and materials to ensure that the computer is more resistant to things like shock, environment, and overheating.

If you want the most efficient, ergonomic way to input data on the plant floor, an HMI is an absolute necessity. Make sure that you have the most stable environment with some of our quality HMIs.

SDS Industrial Controller

SDS Industrial Controller

See our Washdown HMI Touchscreen Solutions

Apr 3, 2013

Human Machine Interface: Control Today, Compatibility Tomorrow

A Human Machine Interface (HMI) is a crucial tool for controlling the processes in many plants today.  With so much at stake, here are some basic tips to get the most efficiency from your HMI.

washdown computer

SDS HMI Controller

Touchscreen Display – The easier it is for an on-floor operator to use an HMI, the more efficient it will be.  That’s why we use large 15-inch monitors for input and display.

The use of color also helps clarify information and choices that are presented to operators.

Specific Prompts – The more specific and intuitive an HMI is, the less time is wasted by operators in thinking, writing, and decision-making.

The compact embedded industrial computers we use hold thousands of records that are organized for easy retrieval.  For inputs, operators are prompted for specific data, which removes guess work.  And the Windows® 7 Embedded operating system we use means fast boot ups and no worries about viruses.

Connectivity – Depending on your application, you might need to be interfaced with a host of equipment such as scanners, printers, fingerprint readers, digital I/O, keyboards, and/or Trolley Vision® readers.

The internal industrial computer that we utilize has plenty of power to keep you connected to the rest of your operation.

Compatibility Tomorrow – We’ve all felt the frustration of technology updates that make equipment obsolete!

That practice is so common with computer equipment that we’ve come to expect it.

To help alleviate some of that frustration, we created an anti-obsolescence (above), intermediate sealed touchscreen mounting plate.

That way, if the computer industry stops making and supporting the touchscreen monitor used in our SDS-TS-5000-15 HMI, you would not have to replace your entire HMI!

You could simply get the new monitor and have us build a new mounting plate for that new size.

You’d be good to go once again, but at a fraction of the cost of complete replacement!

SDS Industrial Controller

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