Design Like a Pro: Exceptional Industry-Specific HMIs

58 min video  /  51 minute read Download PDF


Mara Pillott

Application Engineering Manager

Inductive Automation

Kent Melville

Director of Sales Engineering

Inductive Automation

Chris Monchinski

VP of Manufacturing Intelligence

Automated Control Concepts

Alex Marcy

Founder and CEO

Corso Systems

Frank Peronace

Controls Manager

Kupper Engineering

When it comes to designing an HMI, there are a few basic concepts to keep in mind, but no one-size-fits-all solution. Every screen will be unique, with functionality and requirements particular to the needs of its operators, and the more specialized the use, the more critical those differences are. So what makes an HMI excel in an industry setting?

In this webinar, join expert engineers from Inductive Automation and a panel of automation professionals for real-world examples of exceptional industry-specific HMI design and the crucial elements that shape each screen’s layout and interface.

  • Understand critical features for successful HMI design
  • Learn tips for practical, industry-focused interfaces
  • Discover cross-industry techniques to boost performance
  • See real-world examples of cutting-edge HMIs

Kent Melville: Hello, welcome to today's webinar, “Design Like A Pro: Exceptional Industry-Specific HMIs.” I'm Kent Melville, the Director of Sales Engineering here at Inductive Automation. And my co-presenter today is Mara Pillott, and she is the Application Engineering Manager here at Inductive Automation. Mara, can you tell us a little bit about what you do here at IA?

Mara Pillott: Sure Kent. So I've been here over a decade now, obviously a huge fan of Ignition, I am an Application Engineering Manager, and what that means is I have this amazing team under me. We take care of the online demo, you may have seen some of our projects at conferences and trade shows, and we also get involved with some of these webinars and helping our customers with proof of concepts back to you, Kent.

Kent Melville: Perfect, thanks Mara. So glad to have you here today. Also with us, we have three guest presenters. First off, we have Alex Marcy from Corso Systems, and then we have Frank Peronace from Kupper Engineering, and Chris Monchinski from Automated Control Concepts, and so we'll let each of these three introduce themselves, and so Alex, let's start with you.

Alex Marcy: Hi, I'm Alex Marcy, the Founder and CEO of Corso Systems. Corso Systems is a systems integrator working exclusively with Ignition and end users who wanna switch to Ignition from their legacy platforms. We've worked with Ignition since 2009 across almost every industry imaginable, and have developed standards and best practices over the years to help our customers get the most out of their investment. We're dedicated to pushing the envelope for what's possible with the platform, and we're excited to show you an example of our work today from an electric vehicle manufacturing facility. Thanks for watching.

Kent Melville: Perfect, thank you, Alex. Frank, over to you.

Frank Peronace: Hi, I'm Frank Peronace, Controls Manager at Kupper Engineering. I've been a systems integrated with Kupper for about eight years now, I was the first at Kupper to begin using and become certified in Ignition, and it's quickly become a preferred SCADA platform. At Kupper, we provide full-service professional engineering and engineering support from planning and design to implementation and commissioning. We have a focus on renewable energy and mission critical engineering. I'm part of the team that provides services in industrial automation controls, including commissioning support service, industrial network design and implementation, as well as installation and ongoing maintenance and SCADA systems. We pride ourselves on our dedication and desire to evolve, and we are often depended on by our clients to take the lead in a project to get it and to get it done.

Kent Melville: Awesome, thank you, Frank. And Chris we'll finish with you.

Chris Monchinski: Great. Hey, thanks for having me and thanks for everyone joining in... We've got quite a great crowd here. I am Chris Monchinski. I work for Automated Control Concepts. We are a systems integrator and premier partner with the Ignition and Inductive platforms. We specialize and concentrate in life sciences, food and beverage, and critical infrastructure solutions. We have an expertise in developing solutions around Ignition in those arenas. I'm looking forward to introducing you to some really exceptional HMIs today.

Kent Melville: Awesome, well, thank you everybody for being here. Excited to see more from each of our presenters here in a minute. For those who might not be familiar, here's a little background on our software platform, Ignition. Ignition is a universal industrial application platform for HMI, SCADA, MES and IIoT. It's used by 57% of the Fortune 100 and the latest version it is 8.1.30, which was released just earlier this month and is available for download off our website, but Ignition has become popular due to its unlimited licensing model, cross-platform compatibility, and being based on IT-standard technologies as a scalable web server client architecture, web-based, web-managed and designers and clients are all web-deployed as well. Has its modular configurability, developers like it because of its rapid development and deployment tools. We have lots of webinars they go through and show you about the development experience inside Ignition and talk about its power.

Kent Melville: We hope you go and check out some of that other content, but today we're really focused on some outcomes and how you build some really cool visualization and some cool HMIs that aren't just shiny and new looking, but also that are very, very functional, which is very important in this industry creating functional HMIs. And so we're gonna be talking about that today, and we're gonna start off by looking at some cross-industry building blocks or some practical tips that could apply in lots of different situations regardless of what industry you're in. And then we're gonna go and look at some specific real-world HMIs with our guests today, so that you can see what some of these specific HMIs could look like for some specific industries, and then always, like always, we will be finishing up with some audience Q&A. You can do that by just going into the questions panel here in the GoToWebinar panel, and there you can go ahead and type in your questions, and if we can't get your questions in time at the end, we encourage you to reach out to one of our talented account representatives who can help answer it, and also, this is a good time to mention that a recording of this webinar and the webinar slides will be made available over the next couple of days, so if you wanna rewatch a section or share with someone else, you'll be able to do so.

Kent Melville: Alright, with all that being said, we're gonna jump in those building blocks, and for that, I'll turn it over to you, Mara.

Mara Pillott: Great. Thank you, Kent. Got that. Okay, thank you. Our presenters are gonna share some powerful industry-specific HMIs, but before we get started, we're gonna talk about what makes a good HMI in general. I'm gonna draw on some of our past webinars, I'm gonna plagiarize myself here, briefly go over some principles for a successful design. I encourage all of you to visit the resources section of our website, we've got a lot of in-depth material on these topics. So for today, I just want you to keep in mind, we're gonna go over some ease of navigation, reusability, High-Performance HMI techniques, alarm management, and mobile responsiveness. If you start off planning around these ideas, you'll build a successful HMI. Let's get started with navigation.

Mara Pillott: You'll wanna determine your navigation strategy and lay out really early in your project planning. Overall you want to limit the number of clicks users need to find information, and you wanna avoid hidden content. So here's some examples of two navigation strategies, your “broad and shallow” starts with the home screen. Users can navigate from here to any other screen, this is really useful if you have a lot of categories, but only a few pieces of information in each...

Mara Pillott: As the strategy requires fewer clicks and allows users to see all of the options at once. The “narrow and deep” really limits your options at the home screen, and then you can dig down as needed. This is useful if you just have a few categories, but each one contains a lot of information. Here we see some examples of our navigation layout. I'm sure you've all seen some of this before. Our screen is broken up into some top and side navigation, the main content takes up most of the real estate, and we have some additional metrics along the bottom of the screen. We see top navigation typically because users will intuitively look to the top of the screen for navigation, and we also typically see maybe a home page link in the upper left, and some system information, such as your critical alarms, towards the right. You could consider a second row of top navigation buttons or side navigation that changes with your top navigation. We're gonna talk more about responsive design in a moment, but if you start off planning with responsiveness in mind, you're gonna save some time later. This shows a self-hiding navigation drawer from our online demo. Each shows that your menu is replaced with that hamburger icon when the screen size is reduced, so now we settle on a navigation strategy, we know about our layout, let's start talking about our design.

Mara Pillott: So when starting out, you wanna think about a reusable or object-oriented design, but why do we even care about this? Because reusable components will save us time in building and maintaining our projects. Once we have a reusable object, we can implement it in any new project, if we wanna make changes, we only have to make changes in one place, and the shared object is gonna provide a consistent experience for our users. So whenever you create something new in Ignition, ask yourself if you can reuse it, and what parameters would you need to make it more dynamic. So let's get started with the project level. Ignition 8 introduced project inheritance. Whether you want a consistent navigation header or you wanna share some scripts reviews in all of your projects, there's no need to copy and paste. Just consider creating a global project for all of your shared resources. You are not limited to one global project, you can use multiple levels of inheritance to build your resource library. Now we're gonna talk about UDTs or User Defined Types. This is just a group of tags and properties representing some object like a tank or motor, this is gonna give you a consistent structure. Every instance is gonna have the same alarms, properties, folders.

Mara Pillott: Your tag addresses can be parameterized and you can have multiple UDT instances created in just a few clicks. The modifications can be made on the definition and changes are gonna apply to all instances automatically. If you find yourself building a folder of tags and then copying that folder to create another instance, it’s time for you to build a UDT. We can also reuse our views. One of the most common pitfalls we see is creating copies of a view for multiple objects. In this tank example, we could have made our lives much easier by just creating one view with the tank number parameter instead of a view for each tank. So we've talked a little about making the life of the designer easier. Let's switch focus and talk about our users. We want them to find information quickly. There's a lot of material out there on this topic, but we're gonna cover a few points, including color and indicators, analog versus digital, data with context, and sparklines. Let's talk about color first. In traditional HMI, almost everything has a color. It's difficult to see what needs attention at a glance. High-Performance HMIs can look pretty basic and simplistic. They typically use grayscale rather than graphics and bright colors, and we really wanna visually contrast critical and non-critical states.

Mara Pillott: What color stands out here? It's pretty obvious. So we look at this again on the High-Performance HMI screen, we can quickly see we have a red alert on this tank, on the left-hand side. It's a rectangle with a numeral one. This number one is indicating our highest priority alerts and our color blind users can key in on shapes and numerals. Can you mix traditional and high-performance? Sure, just be sure to use color judiciously and stay consistent and keep reusability in mind. The moving analog indicators are a great way of displaying whether value is within our desired operating range. As we can see, even with only the one number there and without context, you can tell that we are within range. With the digital display, we don't have any context or meaning. This is a really good time to talk about data with context. The example on the left shows you a blood pressure reading. Most of us are not gonna know if that is a good or bad result. The display on the right is more informative, it shows you that the reading is high compared with the norm, and it shows you where it falls on the spectrum of all possible readings.

Mara Pillott: Speaking of data with context, the sparkline chart gives us a way to display recent history and discern trends for a single data point. We get contextual information in a very small amount of space.

Mara Pillott: So now that we have talked about navigation, layout, and screen design, let's talk about getting our users’ attention with alarms. This is a poorly managed alarm system, our poor user. We have alarm flooding, multiple alarms in a short period. We can have stale alarms that we'll just stay in the alarm state continuously for hours on end. We have chattering alarms, these are going from active to clear multiple times a minute, users are gonna silence these, they're not gonna pay attention. So it's really important we manage them. One way we wanna do this is filter them. We wanna make sure we're only showing alarms to users in certain groups or when they've navigated to certain areas of our project. We wanna watch our priorities. You wanna create your alarms with a low priority by default, only the most important alarm should be your high or critical priority. You can reduce your number of alarms by consolidating messages into a single message, and you can shelve an alarm to temporarily silence it or even disable alarms for equipment that is down for maintenance. Last thing we're gonna talk about is responsive design, so not every project requires this. Many HMI screens have some P&ID layout, they're meant to be viewed on a static screen, and they're not gonna respond well to scaling.

Mara Pillott: However, we see an increasing demand for a responsive user interface. Users want everything from wide screen displayed, to tablets and mobile devices and everything in between. They have touch screens, and we're gonna have to think about how they're gonna interact with our projects. So keeping this responsiveness in mind, when you start planning your project is gonna save you time later. For example, you might wanna build in some responsive menus right away, like we saw in the beginning. You could start with just a few main screens and your P&ID layouts, and maybe you'll build some mobile screens showing just alerts or lists of devices. So now that we've gone over a few general principles for HMI design, we're gonna turn this over to Alex Marcy from Corso Systems.

Alex Marcy: Thank you for that, Mara. Here's an example of an HMI that we developed for an electric vehicle manufacturing company. We used a Map Component from Perspective and a custom tile set to show their plant floor with equipment on the plant floor and their production lines and robots and things. As Mara talked about with navigation structure, this Map Component sort of simplifies navigation throughout the application. We can take the user to a main screen here with the map. Have their production model following IS-95 standards on the left, and they can click and zoom to go anywhere in the map. So right now we're looking at the battery line, line one at the top and line two here on the bottom. If I click on an item in the tree, it will zoom to that piece of equipment and shows the status of that... We can go back to the feed, we're pulling all of this information from a custom tile set we generated from CAD files, we can also... If we don't have CAD files for a facility, we could go in and manually measure things or use something like LiDAR scanning to generate a map of the plant floor, and then from there, we generate these polygon shapes to indicate status of various pieces of equipment and production lines.

Alex Marcy: And operators can pull up on a screen whatever they wanna look at at any given point. We can also save these views if we wanna show these on screens on the plant floor or pull up different views for different pieces of equipment or outside of the ISA-95 hierarchy here. You also see on the map here, we have this OEE dashboard icon. This could include things like sparklines, tabular data, different labels or things. We just kept it simple for the demo here. This ties into all of the tags in Ignition, which in this project we have UDT developed for all of the equipment and components that we wanna display on the map, so we can pull those tags in and automatically populate devices on the map as needed. In the PLCs, we also have add-on instructions to map all of the tags from the PLCs and IO devices into tags and Ignition, so doing some work upfront to standardize all of that simplifies getting things onto the map. If we wanna declutter the map, we can also turn things on and off. We could turn off the OEE dashboard icons with a click of a button.

Alex Marcy: We could turn it back on. We could also turn on and off the polygons if we want, and if we have somebody looking at this, maybe a customer or an investor, somebody on a plant tour who doesn't understand the intricacies and the process flow, we can also build process flow diagrams to show the flow of material through the process with arrows indicating where things are going, and that will give somebody a visual representation while they're looking at the equipment, what they should be seeing as far as process flow is concerned. And then on top of the map view, we also have a dashboard set up, so we can click into a dashboard view and we can click any of the items in the tree to pull data up for those. This uses the built-in Dashboard Component in Perspective, so we have some customized widgets that we have set up and we could build as many widgets as people need to see on the plant floor. In this case, we have a box and whisker plot and then a couple of bar charts, and we can also show the plant map icon to show what piece of equipment that we're looking at, in this case, we're showing production counts, different states, so going along with OEE for downtime tracking and cycle time based on an hourly basis, and we can get as in-depth or simple as we wanna get with these dashboards, so we'll see some cool examples here in a little bit of...

Alex Marcy: More detailed dashboards. And then going back to the plant map, we can also... The benefit of the map is we can zoom in and out. We can see the status of site area in line from the ISA-95 standard, or we can zoom in and look at a particular production line or particular pieces of equipment, and we can layer a text over the map to give somebody a visualization of what they're looking at.

Alex Marcy: So, that's about all with the map. Let me go back to the slides. Just a quick plug. At ICC in September, Corso Systems is going to be participating in the Build-a-Thon, going up against the Barry-Wehmiller Design Group. But we're really excited about this competition and being a part of it. And excited to see what we can do with the conference. For our HMI designs, we typically like to figure out what all of our users are for the system because their needs are gonna be different across the company. We typically focus on business users, so that would be executives or folks in customer service or shipping and receiving that are not running the plant floor directly.

Alex Marcy: But we also like to focus on operators, the folks making things on the plant floor and interacting with the system the most, as well as considering things like investors, customers, media, people who may come through on a plant tour and wanna see something interesting about your facility. For the business folks, the overall goal is they wanna answer high-level questions quickly, so we're gonna give them high-level KPIs like OEE, total productivity and throughput, where resources are being lost. Basically, they're gonna wanna know, how do we stop the bleeding if things are going poorly. If we have a lot of down time, how do we get rid of it and get more up time, push more through the process, and kinda keep the business running smoothly without getting into the weeds.

Alex Marcy: This works well with map scale views like we saw in this demo that provide a larger-scale context for the process, because the business folks are typically from an ISA-95 perspective looking at site area in line. They're not necessarily concerned with what's happening in a particular workstation, unless it is part of the aggregate of what they're looking at as a whole. For operators, they're more focused on running the process on the plant floor, so they need to be able to run the process efficiently and operate their equipment. So, we're typically giving them real-time KPIs, and as Mara talked about, looking at alarms and process upsets, and they may also be looking at things like production schedules and what's coming down the pipe next to make sure they have the right raw material and product on the line to make what they need to make next.

Alex Marcy: This is where things like... Some of the map views can work well to show wide level and a lot of pieces of equipment in one spot, as well as individual workcell HMIs. So, panel views and panel mounted PCs or things at the machine that they're looking at to control the equipment, and they're looking for more of a localized context, potentially area, but definitely at the line and cell level. Up here, we have a little bit more of a detailed OEE dashboard, you can see more information on that on the link below here, from a Discovery Gallery project from ICC 2021.

Alex Marcy: And finally, we wanna focus also on investors and customers, folks that are gonna be on a plan tour of a large scale facility. They're not gonna necessarily know what's going on in each piece of equipment and each production line, so they're gonna maybe wanna see high-level KPIs to understand are things going well or bad. They may need to see process-flow diagrams, like we look at to understand the flow of material through the process. And they may be seeing a robot arm doing some welding or something and say, "What does that robot arm doing right now?" And we can look at the screen to give them some context for that.

Alex Marcy: So, that's where map scale views and line-level HMIs can look good for them. They may be interested in a particular work cell, they can talk to operators about that. But typically, we need to build context for those users of the system, 'cause they don't have all of the context of the people who work there every day. And in a lot of cases, for that use case, looks matter more, so they're not gonna be wowed by a High-Performance HMI that's grayscale. They wanna see colors and flashing lights and things, so you kind of have to balance across the board. Operators may really benefit from a High-Performance HMI that gives them context on exactly what they need to do to do their job, but that may not work for all users of the system. So, thanks for watching our demo. And for that, I will kick it over to Frank.

Frank Peronace: Thanks, Alex. So, some of the practical design elements that we incorporate in our SCADA systems include a sense of organization, providing data with context, and including industry-specific functionality. Organization of data is crucial. We want visual features to be consistent, grouped into logical areas based on either operational importance and common interaction or the source of the data, and sometimes both. We try to avoid the situation where the user asks, "What did I click to get here, or where is this data coming from?"

Frank Peronace: Our organization, we often apply a hierarchy to the window navigation with no more than two layers, and we wanna keep that accessible at all times. For context, we want to ensure that the user has ready access to how the data is changing, what the data means, or what normal is. And for features, we make sure we understand the application and how the system is being monitored to operate. We speak to the operators to find out what their normal activities are and what information they need most frequently.

Frank Peronace: Next, I'll show some of the ways we try to be organized. For complex systems, we usually implement a tree-style navigation structure. This immediately provides all the options and allows the user to see where they are. The example on the right groups windows by usage for a 70 solar field data acquisition system. Each of these sites is around five to seven windows associated with them. This tree allows filtering the window list by typing in part of the name, and it dynamically changes to show only those sites to which the user has allowed access. The image in the middle shows the site's folder expanded. Nearly all of those windows are shared between sites using templates and scripting to automate their configuration.

Frank Peronace: To the right of that, we have a navigation tree for a large electrical system, for a multi-tower apartment complex, which generates all of its own electricity isolated from the national grid. Here we see windows grouped into major areas, including alarming, data logging, generation systems and switchgear, which shows the electrical distribution system and power flows to buildings.

Frank Peronace: We also have network and SCADA system monitoring. Navigation features inside of a window can be restricted, keeping the user within the same window when possible. A tab interface can be used to indicate a hierarchy within a given context. This screen allows selecting the performance model for an inverter section and then swapping between the models data, its configuration, alarm settings and solar panel set up. It's also important to be relationally organized within your screens. You wanna guide your user's eyes to important information.

Frank Peronace: The earlier slide showed the heat map where your eyes tend to land. We tend to look to the top left to see where we are and where we should start, and move down and right for more information. This detailed screen shows three columns. The first is a small overall representation of a section of an electrical switchgear. The second column displays information about the incoming and outgoing ends to that bus, and the third shows individual metering and protection devices for each output feeder from the bus. That's also incredibly helpful to show context along with the data to provide useful information. This might mean using a pre-built set of trends to allow comparison of related data, like seen on the top left.

Frank Peronace: On the top right, we're using a numerical display which provides a tag name, detail about where the data is coming from, at the engineering units, as sparkline of what measurement has been doing for the last few hours, and an analog indicator showing how far away we are from a problem. These are each templates composed of other templates to minimize set-up time. And finally, we have a solar combiner box model on the bottom, which highlights inputs which are underproducing with a circle. And it visually shows the average input current against each input value, the acceptable deviation range is also shown as a gray band.

Frank Peronace: Another way of showing data in context and reducing navigational complexity is to allow a user to stay within a single screen, selecting between alternate views. When clicking the smaller KPI-like templates on the left, the larger template on the right, changes to show the detail for that device. And the trend on the bottom updates to graph that. There's also an image of the meter that changes to represent the one that is on site. This keeps with the navigation towards the left and increasing detail towards the right and bottom. Industry-specific functionality can be used to support the operational needs of the customer or to handle specific challenges in that industry.

Frank Peronace: On the top, we see a KPI banner, which is always at the top of the screen, showing all the valuable data points for the operation of a landfill gas energy plan. On the bottom left, we developed the maintenance interval tracking system, which allows the operators to create grouped maintenance items which can alert on a tag data-based interval, such as engine run hours or a calendar time elapsed or both. This generates reports for maintenance records as well.

Frank Peronace: For the large 70 plus solar field system, we can experience a large number of nuisance alarms as the sun goes down or comes up. We implemented a system which allows entering the latitude and longitude for the site to calculate sunrise and sunset times, combined with the deadband after sunrise and before sunset, to suppress alarms to ensure that alarms received are actually important enough to act on. Ignition provides all the tools needed to provide useful graphical and numerical displays that can share the importance and meaning of the data and to create nearly any kind of application. From here, I'll pass things over to Chris, from ACC. Thank you.

Chris Monchinski: Thank you, Frank. Let me show you a couple of things that we're doing here at ACC for some of our customers. We start with a little bit of a demonstration first. Ignition screen, starting off at an overview level, not that different from what Alex showed us before within the four walls of a plant. This particular process industry application has a wide geography associated with it, as you can see. There are also, and I think Alex mentioned this as well, and so did Frank, multiple end users of these systems, we need to keep those in mind as well.

Chris Monchinski: So for example, in this particular application, we have an operations group, but we also have finance groups which are interested in telemetry for the sale of the material that's being made. And we have a logistics team, a dispatch team, essentially, we just need to track inbound and outbound freight to these sites. So, at a glance, from this level screen, I can see the status of each of the production areas and interconnect or dispatch areas. I can also see enroute trucks that are on route or at location.

Chris Monchinski: Color coding gives us a very simple way of understanding whether or not a site is in good working condition, or if there are some alarms that need attention. And interact with the screen too, to some extent, I could zoom it in and out, I can float over a particular icon and then see the site’s name, the number of alarms, the current field status of a particular production area, etc. Same with any of these sites here, and they size differently based on the size. Over here is a flyout menu. On the top, we have a main menu here, which will give us the ability to look at some different parts of the system here. I can zoom out again here. On a flyout menu here, I can actually navigate across the different areas and actually zoom in on a particular area here, jump into that, and go right to that location.

Chris Monchinski: Similar to what the streams that Alex shared before, we have a screen that shows some specific KPIs, and information that are pertinent to the operations team, and/or the dispatch team, when it comes to looking at a particular site. So looking at this particular site, these widgets that are built-in the Ignition dashboarding tool, allow our user to see at a glance the information that is critical to running that operation. They animate based on alarm conditions, they show them through either standard text descriptions or through gauges and/or charts, the values of data that are important to that operation.

Chris Monchinski: As Alex showed, you can actually customize these. Use a dashboard component to build a set of pre-made widgets, for an end user. We can add that widget in, and then we can set that to a different location and pull up data for that location. This allows us to not just design screens that are built for the different audiences that we need to consider, but actually build components for screens that we can let our end users define screens. So, many of us will struggle designing screens and building systems across different industries to know exactly what is important at any given moment for a particular user's role, whether they be an operator, or a safety engineer, a supervisor, a business level executive.

Chris Monchinski: What we can do is unchain the system and let them customize it. It's a pretty powerful tool, and from here, I can actually load standard dashboards or even save my own dashboard. Give it a name, put it under my username, and then that dashboard will be there in perpetuity for my work later on. Another interesting thing about these widgets in particular, in this kind of design, this tile-based design, and Mara mentioned it before, is that when you're working with tiles like this, you have an opportunity to block the screen, if you will, so that you can take advantage of that responsive design.

Chris Monchinski: So, for example, I'm running in a browser here as we are with Perspective, and I can use that browser, and it's the bug window to switch the form factor of the screen. So, instead of looking at this the way we were as if we're on the desktop, I can say, “Well, what would this look like if I was on an iPhone 12 Pro?” And you can see that it'll fold up very nicely, things remain readable, things remain navigatable, I can work with the screen remotely as I'm moving throughout a facility or as if I'm enroute to a facility, I'm actually in a truck.

Chris Monchinski: In the facility, I might wanna use an iPad or some equivalent of a tablet. And so the tablet gives us a different view, and of course, you can even test rotation of these. So, these debugging tools within the browser give us a great opportunity to look at a lot of different screen sizes and take advantage of the responsive design that's already built into Ignition. Couple of the important practical things that we like to keep in mind at ACC when we're designing for our customers, who for the most part are in process industries. There are several standards in this space that are very important for design, and they influence HMI.

Chris Monchinski: One of them, key, chiefly is the ISA-101 standard, which is an HMI design and standard guide. Mara mentioned in her best practices portion of this presentation, many of the key things that are pointed out in ISA-101. It really comes down to something that's called, in a broad sense, human factors engineering. And Alex and Frank both touched on this as well. Understanding your users, understanding operationally, how they will use the system, and then making sure the system works for them. It is a tool, and they want to be able to do their job safely and efficiently. So, they need to see the information that they are interested in immediately, minimize the number of clicks and navigation requirements with the information on that screen at a glance, and also use, as Mara pointed out, color to pull attention to things that need to be addressed. 

Chris Monchinski: Things that are running in a standard operation statically or in a powered off mode or in a safe mode, those can be limited, blunted, essentially using a gray palette or a color that's more muted. Another important standard that is important in the process industries that we pay regular attention to here at ACC, is the ISA-88 standard, and to some extent, this falls into the category of modular design, which Mara pointed out and talked about at length in her presentation.

Chris Monchinski: The idea that you can use Ignition elements such as UDTs, and templated graphics to build standard modules. And the way we design systems at ACC, we'll build those standard modules from the control layer, building the control logic, the control module, the equipment module, and then layer that into the paired UDT within Ignition all the way up to the templated graphic. So that we're building these foundational graphics throughout the entire process from a control system all the way up tightly integrated into the Ignition process.

Chris Monchinski: So, again an overview display, at a glance information of the process flow. Make it simple, don't necessarily copy or put the P&ID diagram into your screen, per se. We've been building that as engineers, I'm sure for many of us. But better to redesign that, redraw essentially, at a very high level. You can use this for navigation as well as at-a-glance, situational awareness. But it should be very easy for me to understand the process flow, what relates to what, and what is in an alarm condition or in an unsafe condition, so that I can spend my time paying attention to these things.

Chris Monchinski: Another important thing to understand too, and we've become, as HMI designers, really experts, we should become experts, at the processes that we're trying to design against, and that means understanding some of the background behind what we're trying to control or what the end customer is trying to produce. One of the great ways to depict this is with a polar diagram, like the one depicted here on the right-hand side. The idea that there are multiple variables that are related to keeping a process in control and being able to see at a glance, is that process in control or is it out of control. And what variable is attributing to that out of control or drifting from control condition.

Chris Monchinski: A polar diagram is a really great way to do that. You know, it's not necessary that we don't show P&ID diagrams on our screens. So again, we can simplify them, but we should make them simplified. We should allow for a mobile format or responsive design. In this case, of course, it's difficult to have a P&ID diagram that's not really based on a set of tiles, fold and collapse on itself. What we typically do is we provide an alternative view when switching to that mobile platform, we'll depict the same data as is depicted on the right-hand side in more of a tabular view, whereas if you run the HMI on a desktop or on an enclosure on the plant floor, you would see the more fully laid out be like a diagram. Again, shape and color are very important. I think Mara pointed this out as well. It's not just color, but it's also shape. The ability to say that, hey, there's something different about this screen and I can see that that's bolded, I can see there's a symbol by it, so even a color-blind individual could see very quickly that there is a problem with that particular temperature probe. And then finally when I talk about that intuitive control, and I talk about incorporating both elements of ISA-101 and ISA-88 into design, I think about phases in 88, control modules, equipment modules, it's important to build those faceplates as we like to call them in a consistent design. Things are laid out in the same way.

Chris Monchinski: As Frank pointed out, you have tabs on there, so at a simple click, you can navigate between different parts of that same dialogue without having to navigate the different screens. Operators have quick access to things that they need to understand, such as are there permissives that are not being met holding up a particular part of the process? How long have you been executing this process? The key commands to run that process if necessary in manual mode. Setpoints and whether those setpoints and parameters are in range. And when we're in a particular step in a long-running process, what is that step? Very often that the control system level, those steps are encoded, as they are on the right-hand side, with numbers. That's pretty common practice in 88 design, but those numbers mean something, they mean something from a process perspective, and we wanna make sure our screens are usable from an operator perspective. They don't need to know what 450 is, they know they're in the transferring portion of the phase. With that, I'm gonna turn it back over to Alex.

Kent Melville: Yeah, this is Kent. I'll jump in here. Share my screen.

Chris Monchinski: Perfect.

Kent Melville: Alright. Well, yeah, I'd like to give another big thanks to our guest presenters over some great looking HMIs and some equally great tips. And so to wrap things up, let's compare and contrast a little bit. So some concepts overlap between all these different industries including, like navigation, reusability, high performance to some extent, alarms and responsiveness. They can apply no matter which industry you're designing for. But others can depend on context. What your operators need, what your customer is asking for, know what other people in the organization need, and I think that that's a big thing when we talk about great HMIs. There are certainly standards to follow, and some people follow standards rigidly, and often certain industries follow standards rigidly, and some other companies and other industries see them more as guidelines. And it's really important to figure out what kind of industry you're in and to find the appropriate balance, where at the end of the day, it's about efficiency and usability. And HMI for one person, it's perfect for one person, might be the wrong HMI for another person. And so part of good HMI design is all of the things we've talked about today, it's also a bit of project management. Of going, talking to people, figuring out what their needs are, understanding those needs, and then solving their pain points.

Kent Melville: And so Inductive Automation gives you lots of tools to be able to tackle whatever those requirements are and be able to represent things in different ways, so hopefully you saw some stuff today that is useful to you. We have been getting lots of questions in the questions panel. If you haven't had a chance to go and type your questions yet, please go and add your questions to the questions panel inside the GoToWebinar control panel. While you're typing in those questions, just a couple notes here at the end. If you've never tried Ignition for yourself, you can download the most recent version, 8.1.30, right now from our website. Only takes three minutes to download and you can use it in that trial version, that trial mode, for as long as you want, absolutely free. Just every two hours, we'll do a reset. We also have free online training via Inductive University, where you can learn all about how to use Ignition. We've got hundreds of free training videos there, so you can learn Ignition step by step at your own pace. We've also got a comprehensive online user manual at that you can refer to any time.

Kent Melville: This was brought up earlier, but we have our 2023 Ignition Community Conference, ICC, That will be taking place on September 26 through 28 this year in beautiful Folsom, California. Conference is really an incredible experience where the greatest minds in automation get together to build relationships and learn about the latest industrial topics and technologies and it really is a whole lot of fun. So tickets are going faster than ever this year. Please go to our conference website and there you can get tickets. If you can't make it in person this year, there's also a livestreaming pass that you can purchase, so you can watch the sessions live from wherever you are. And as Alex brought up, we have our Build-a-Thon that will be at the event, and Corso Systems was able to compete for one of the top two slots, and if you go and check out our blog, you can see some information about the challenge that they went through but Alex, congratulations again. We're really excited to see you at the kind of culminating event at ICC where you'll go head-to-head with Barry-Wehmiller Design Group. So we're excited for that and everybody please be sure to check it out.

Kent Melville: Alright. So for those of you outside of North America, we want you to know that we have a network of international Ignition distributors who provide business development opportunities in sales and technical support in your language and time zone. To learn more about the distributor in your region, please visit their website or contact our International Distribution Manager, Yegor Karnaukhov. And his... That contact information is all on this slide, and you'll be able to get access to the slides afterwards. If you'd like to speak with one of our account executives here at our headquarters in California, our phone number is right there, and that is my quick spiel, we'll now get to some Q&A. And so like I said, we're going through the questions in the GoToWebinar control panel. Feel free to type some questions there. We have one for you Chris. Somebody is asking about what's behind your permissives button? How do you manage unique permissives for each equipment? Can you talk a little bit about permissives and how you guys manage them?

Chris Monchinski: Yeah, so we differentiate in a design between permissives and interlocks. Interlocks are usually at the device level of the control module level, whereas a permissive is usually something that we would implement at the start or at various key points in a phased process or in an equipment module. At a binary level, interlock or the permissive might work very similar, except that an interlock can be active at any moment and then shut down a device for a safety condition. A valve was not open to clear a path for a pump that's operating for example. A permissive is usually, once it is gained and it is passed within phase logic or an equipment module, it's not necessarily checked again, unless programmatically.

Chris Monchinski: We typically implement our permissives as a series of arrays inside the PLCs, and then we bring those arrays up through a UDT in Ignition, and then those arrays are... And then those values are then assigned to strings, so behind that permissive button is basically a list of basically permissives that are active, and then when that permissive is active, the user would be able to see that all these permissives are met, there's check boxes next to them, or they might see one with a highlight, maybe red or some other animation symbol, that would indicate that that permissive is not met. And again, that way, operations can look at a control module, an equipment module, pardon me, and understand, “Am I in a condition at this step to actually move on to the next step, or is there something limiting that condition?”

Kent Melville: Perfect. Thank you so much for that background, Chris. Couple other items that people mentioned in here. “Will Perspective be getting shape tools like Vision?” Yes, it will be. It's an active development right now. Will certainly be available with our next major version of Ignition to be released next year, which is 8.3. So stay tuned. I know people have been waiting for that for a while. In the meantime, people can use other drawing tools and import SVGs, JPEGs, all that kind of stuff directly into Perspective screens. People are also asking about Vision versus Perspective, and we're seeing most new projects being tackled in Perspective these days. There is no automatic conversion from Vision to Perspective. For those who don't know, Vision is our original visualization platform and was our flagship for a long time. Perspective has kind of taken that flagship title, but Vision is still very healthy and alive inside our community, but they are completely separate visualization platforms, and so you do need to develop for them separately.

Alex Marcy: Oh, to correct you there, Kent, we do have a automated Vision-to-Perspective conversion.

Kent Melville: Oh that's right. Absolutely, yeah.

Alex Marcy: Yeah. There's a blog post on our website. If anyone wants to check it out for the Corso Systems.

Kent Melville: Absolutely, yeah. Thanks for that reminder. Yeah. Go check out Corso Systems, they have a converter for you.

Alex Marcy: And I don't know if it was a global question, but someone related to shapes also asked which tool was created for the polygons on the map? Those are using the built-in polygon layer in the Map Component. There's polygons, circles, and rectangles built in as well as markers, so I believe, Chris, you're probably using the markers on your map for the houses and the valves and different devices that you had on there. And then the OEE component was a view, so that's a Perspective view that's built into the Map Component as well, and if you want to see any of that and how to use it yourself, on the Ignition Exchange, there's a resource called GeoFence. Like G-E-O, like geographic. And that has an example of how to do the polygons and circles on the map as well. So you can check that out on your own.

Kent Melville: Perfect. And Mara, here's a question for you. Would it be a good idea to provide different navigation paths and level detail based on user login?

Mara Pillott: Absolutely. That would be a good idea. We provide role-based security. You could also do this with some IP addressing or other tools as well, but most typically we see role-based, and with our menu systems, you can hide or just even show and disable certain selections. So yeah. Absolutely, good idea. Plan for your user security level.

Kent Melville: And Frank, I think you were showing some dynamic menus in your presentation as well, is that right?

Frank Peronace: Yeah, that's correct. The navigation for some of our systems is based on who is logged in, it'll change what options are available.

Kent Melville: Perfect. And several people asked about, will a recording of this be available to rewatch? Yes. It'll be posted on our website within the next few days, so make sure you look for it there. We also have had some comments about kind of that user experience design, UX design. We do have some really good webinars where we brought in Ray Sensenbach from Inductive Automation who goes through some of those concepts. And so, if you didn't feel like you got all of that content today, I encourage you to go look through some of those webinars, and if you have trouble finding it, feel free to reach out to anyone on our sales team and they can help get you connected there. Lots of questions. I'm trying to skim through here really quick. Question for you, Chris. “What industry standards are supported by Inductive's HMIs?” I know you get to work in life sciences industries and stuff like that, and so how has that affected you guys? I know 21 CFR Part 11 comes up all the time. Can you speak to that a little bit?

Chris Monchinski: Oh yeah, there's a ton of overlap in different arenas. So I mentioned 101 as a standard from ISA, which is a pretty important standard, it is titled HMI design, and therefore it has a lot to say about the way we go about designing those like graphic components in the presentation of information and the communication of information. Quite frankly, Mara mentioned alarms and alarm overload. There's a standard ISA-18 that deals with alarm management and introduces concepts such as color of alarms, kind of the categorization of alarms, the reduction of the number of critical alarms, alarm overload. So the many of the concepts that Mara talked about and are built into tool sets in Ignition, are also addressed in that standard. And then you mentioned that for life sciences, 21 CFR Part 11, which is a US regulation, but there are several similar regulations across the world in different regions of the world, has to do with the integrity of electronic data and electronic signatures in particular. So when you have a system that you're interacting with, like an Ignition system, it is important, especially in the life sciences industry, to have a very clear understanding about the version of that system when it's built. If anyone were to make a change to the configuration of that project and redeploy it out on to the production system, we would want to know about that.

Chris Monchinski: And so we want what they call an audit trail of that. The Ignition provides the tools to turn on auditing across both configuration and the runtime elements of the platform, so that you can actually track users who are making changes to the system or interacting with the system at runtime. It does support the ability to enable electronic signatures. It supports integration to the Active Directory, which of course is the Microsoft technology adapting the open standard of that, but it also supports OIDC connectivity, which has become more and more important when people think about single sign-on, and think about multiple applications that people interact with and mobile applications that people interact with. Sometimes Active Directory, which is still a Windows-based technology for the most part, is not the most ideal technology to use. So the ability to support OKTA or OneLogon, or even Azure now, when you're deploying these kinds of solutions like Ignition into cloud-based resources is pretty important.

Kent Melville: Yeah. And thank you so much for that, Chris. We're about out of time here. Wanted each of our guest presenters to kind of be able to give some final thoughts here. We didn't get to all the questions. As you go through your final thoughts, if you wanna address any of the questions as you go through it, feel free. But Frank, let's go ahead and start with you. Any last thoughts for today?

Frank Peronace: Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to present today. I'd say that Ignition is just such an incredible platform that has provided us with great opportunities to have, impressive in visual displays, a lot of performance, and a lot of flexibility in providing HMIs and historian systems that really help our customers.

Kent Melville: Thank you, Frank. Alex, we'll go to you next.

Alex Marcy: Yeah. I think Ignition, as I said in my WhatTheHeckIsIgnition post on LinkedIn, I think it's the best industrial information platform in the world. It allows you to do anything, and we never have to tell anyone, “No, we can't do that with Ignition.” Sometimes we may have to learn and figure out how to do something we've never done before, but from designing complex HMIs that are user-friendly and allow operators to get done what they need to do and get information where it needs to go. I think it's a great platform. And thanks for checking out the webinar today.

Kent Melville: Absolutely. Chris, over to you.

Chris Monchinski: Yeah. One point I'd like to emphasize, and it was touched on by I think everybody who presented here, Mara really had a complete slide on it, was within Ignition, the templatization of graphics views. I think that is a pretty powerful design element in Ignition that is probably not as, we'll say sexy, as some of the other graphical components, but if you think about it, when you're in a position like we are at ACC or like Alex is at Corso, like Frank is as well, and you're developing multiple HMIs for multiple customers across certain industries that you feel you have an expertise and understanding of, it's great to be able to templatize good solutions, and then reuse those solutions again, and again.

Chris Monchinski: We often start our Ignition projects with a set of templates that are in a, say a backend gateway and our backend project, that we inherit from, and then we go from there. So that's a great accelerator for us to know that when we're building a new application for, let's say a new customer or even one for an existing customer in a new deployment, that we're starting from a baseline that's already been tested, and we have a lot of confidence in and that it really helps our development accelerate. And that's a big win for us on the integration side of the house.

Kent Melville: Yeah. And along those lines, there was a question about, inside Vision, people are using something that's specifically called “templates,” but inside Perspective, they just have “views” and that was purposeful. These templates are so critical that instead of saying, well, mostly you have windows and then you have a couple of templates that are reusable, when we went to Perspective we said, “Everything should be a template, everything should be reusable.” And so views don't differentiate between whether it's used as a window or a template, a view is a view, and a view can be re-used everywhere. It's just a fundamental building block. So you're doing it the right way, Christian there. Mara over to you for your final thoughts.

Mara Pillott: Hi, everyone. Yeah, thank you for joining us today. I might sound a little biased when I tell you I agree, this is the most powerful industrial platform in the universe, but not only that, this is powered by this community, so thank you, presenters. Thank you for everyone who is here today. I think you're going to find an incredible depth of skill and knowledge out there in the community. There are past webinars, blog posts, knowledge papers, not only on our website, but like our presenters said, please check out their sites, their blogs, and follow them on LinkedIn as well, they're gonna give you a lot of current knowledge about Ignition and industrial platforms. Thank you everyone.

Kent Melville: Yep. And we are well past time, so we're gonna wrap it up there, but please some of you have some really specific questions, reach out to some of our sales reps, they'll be happy to go into those specific questions about integration options, platforms we support, all that kind of stuff, but hopefully this was useful to you to kind of see some real-world examples of exceptional industry-specific HMIs. But thanks for your time, we look forward to seeing you all next time. Take care. Bye.

Posted on July 5, 2023