Software and computers – 2004-11-10

By Staff November 10, 2004

HMI growth predicted

The human-machine interface (HMI) software market, which totaled nearly $439 million in 2003, will exceed $559 million in 2008, outperforming the industrial automation market and growing at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5% over the next 5 yr, according to a study by the ARC Advisory Group.

HMI and related control software applications remain integral parts of the process, hybrid, and discrete industries for the access, presentation, and exchange of information for managing plant floor production processes. Manufacturers are looking to HMI software systems for a plant-wide information collection and integration tool.

HMI software using flexible, multifunctional, and interoperable platforms that provide peer-to-peer interfaces with other platforms is driving factory visibility and intelligence as well as playing a major role in providing plantwide connectivity. That is why HMI software is sometimes referred to as visualization software. HMI software connectivity on the plant floor allows a view of devices and machinery. Also, connectivity towards the enterprise allows HMI software to view production management and manufacturing intelligence tiers. The HMI software suppliers offering applications that address these user requirements for exchange and distribution of factory floor information are postured to grow their businesses, according to ARC.

Web browser terminals gaining popularity

Web browser-based operator interface (OI) terminals are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 15.5% through 2006, reports Venture Development Corp. (VDC). According to the study, web browser terminals are perceived to offer advantages over other types of operator interfaces. The primary reasons were utilization of the users’ existing network or use as a pager, PDA, computer, or e-mail client based on triggered times or events. Other benefits cited by end users included:

  • Reduced operation costs by allowing users to build a single application instead of a networked solution comprised of multiple locations

  • Accelerated application ROI by lowering maintenance and support costs

  • Real-time access to data, ultimately speeding up cycle times, improving product quality, and reducing costs of application development and maintenance.

    • One perceived drawback to the web browser OI terminal is the lack of security. However, there are precautions that can be taken to address this problem. Security may be one reason that end users are increasingly outsourcing implementation of OI terminals to OEMs and system integrators.