What is Human Machine Interface(HMI) – Components, Examples, and Trends

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Human Machine Interface(HMI)

Human-machine interface is a term you may have heard before, but what does it mean? It is defined as “how humans interact with electronic devices.” In simpler terms, it’s the way we control and monitor machines. 

HMIs have a wide range of applications in both personal and professional settings.

This article will look closely at the Human Machine Interface definition, its uses, components, trends, and more.

What is Human Machine Interface?

It is the interface between the human operator and the machine. It encompasses hardware and software elements enabling users to interact with a machine or system. 

In many cases, this interaction takes the form of commands or requests; in others, it may be feedback from the machine about its status or operation. 

Whatever their specific purpose, HMIs are an essential part of modern life. They allow us to control complex systems and processes with ease and precision.

As we continue to rely more and more on technology, they will become increasingly important and fascinating tools for interacting with the world around us.

A human-machine interface aims to provide an intuitive, easy-to-use, and efficient platform for performing its intended function.

Depending on the application, this may involve simple display screens or more complex control panels with multiple displays, dedicated keyboards, trackballs, touchscreen panels, etc. 

They are typically used in industrial applications to monitor and control production processes. That can involve starting and stopping equipment to view real-time process status and performance data. 

Other terms for human-machine interface

It is also named operator interface terminal(OIT), Local operator interface(LOI), Man-machine interface(MMI), and Graphic User Interface(GUI).


Both hardware and software are the main components of the human-machine interface.

Components of HMI

Hardware includes 

  • Touch screen
  • Communication ports
  • Display
  • Keyboard

Software includes 

  • Runtime
  • Development


Here we are listing its most common uses.

  • It communicates with input and output sensors and programmable logic controllers(PLCs).
  • Monitors and controls starting and stopping of machines and perform sophisticated operations.
  • Allows operators to see data in graphs and charts through digital dashboards.
  • Allows operators to view and manage alarms.
  • Eliminates manual recording of mechanical processes by allowing PLCs to provide real-time data to HMI display.
  • It helps to decrease human errors.
  • It helps to reduce machine downtime and increases accuracy by enabling operators to control machines.
  • It enhances communication between manufacturing processes and between machines and men.

Role of HMI in SCADA System

SCADA system is the central control system of industrial processes. 

The human-machine interface is an important part of this system. It connects to Programming Logic Controller (PLC) and displays data from PLC, and gives input to PLC from users.

In this way, it helps the manager or operator to monitor and control the processes.


The most common examples are the keypad/keyboard of a computer and touchscreens. These devices help human beings to communicate with machines.

Other devices used in industries are multi-touch-enabled control panels, push buttons, mobile devices, or a tablet.

They are used in older applications where GUI software is unavailable.

What is the Difference Between HMI and SCADA?

It shows visual information to help the operator to monitor industrial processes.
It collects information and controls system operation.
It does not connect to the database.It connects to the database.
It does not collect and record data.It collects and records data.
It provides a good communication tool for the SCADA system.It is the main monitoring and controlling system.

Trends in Human Machine Interface Software

High-performance HMI

It is becoming a trend nowadays. Operators prefer this because it is fast and interacts effectively. It focuses more on complicated indicators and allows the operator to view and respond to the problem quickly and efficiently.

In addition, it provides clear and simple graphs and charts and optimizes the user experience.

Graph and chart of HMI

Remote monitoring

Remote monitoring allows operators to become flexible and accessible. Operators can monitor and view the information on the industrial processes even if they are far away from the shop floor or field.  

Cloud HMI

With its help, operators can view and access data from field devices. You can also send information from the local human-machine interface to the cloud that can be accessed and examined remotely.

Touch screens and mobiles

Advanced human-machine interface allows operators to tap or touch the screen instead of pushing buttons or switches to monitor data and access control. In addition, HMIs in mobile allows the user do to instant access and monitor remotely.


A human-machine interface is a part of the SCADA system. Here we discussed what it is, its components, uses, trends, and the difference between SCADA and HMI.

We hope you find this article helpful.