HMI market sees growth
The global human machine interface (HMI) software market, which exceeded $461 million in 2000, will reach almost $741 million by the end of 2005, according to a newly revised study by ARC Advisory Group. This figure is a compound annual growth rate of 9.9%.
The “control system” buying pattern and new technology adoption are causing enormous shifts among suppliers in the HMI market. Users are buying their HMI as a bundled component of the control system, which includes the PLC.
“As HMI software is shifting from standalone computing towards client-server architecture, demand for the ability to view and/or control a process via the internet or plantwide intranet is increasing dramatically,” according to ARC Senior Analyst Craig Resnick. Battling for revenue growth, some HMI software suppliers are successfully implementing a variety of effective strategic offerings, ranging from alternative methods of access on the client side to redesigning HMI server software using Microsoft Windows 2000 technology. Resnick continued, “This condition is creating a market for new HMI products where the server, along with the internet/intranet, is the primary platform for HMI supplier’s software.”
HMI software suppliers will target lower cost, embedded, open operator interface devices because they provide manufacturers with an open alternative to existing proprietary, low-end, flat panel displays and dedicated operator interface terminals. HMI software sup-pliers can offer the operator interface manufacturer a scaleable set of options.
Traditionally, these low-end, proprietary products were difficult to customize, and often each presented a different graphical user interface (GUI). Although these embedded applications are not as fully functional as their Windows 2000-based counterparts, low-end systems will play an important role in future operator interface devices.
Since HMI software is predominately based on Windows operating systems, users can achieve a high degree of integration with other office productivity tools with which they are already familiar. Leveraging common interfaces, such as COM/DCOM and ActiveX, users, system integrators, and machine builders can easily link process and manufacturing data into their existing Windows-based software packages.
The “sensor-to-boardroom” demands of collaborative manufacturing require seamless integration of automation and enterprise computing, among other things. HMI suppliers, either through acquisition or strategic partner-ships with companies in enterprise computing, are providing solutions that ease those integration challenges. HMI software will continue to serve as a centralized system for coordinating different aspects of the manufacturing pro- cess. Due to the strategic role played by HMI software, users and hardware suppliers are looking to HMI systems as the tool for plantwide information collection and integration.
ARC Advisory Group