The High Performance HMI is not a brand new concept or a piece of hardware, it is an ISA standard for automation that has been around more than 5 years. The concept highlighted below is a methodology for developing graphics for the Human Machine Interface (HMI) that facilitates Operator Effectiveness.


Diagram 1: High Performance HMI example provided by AutomaTech and GE Digital 

Key Aspects:

  • Provides Information instead of Data
  • Simple, Intuitive, with purposefully limited use of color
  • 4-5 Key Performance Indicators or Process Indicators (KPI) with the context of the current value and where it falls within a low to high range indicator that identifies the normal operating range.
  • Severity badges on alerts / alarms (Note” the Red circle with single dots under “Sludge Treatment” the Single dot indicates the highest severity and even a colorblind untrained person can understand that there is an alarm for a point outside the normal range.)
  • Allowing an operator to quickly detect “Abnormal Situations” before alarms actually occur
  • The ability to tap on an indicator and see a trend of the variable over the course of the last batch or shift.
  • 4 Levels of Hierarchy for Information
    • Level 1: Overview at a “Single-Glance”
    • Level 2: Sub-systems controlled by operator
    • Level 3: Process unit detail, trends on specific equipment or controller
    • Level 4: Process unit support, and diagnostic displays, interlocks, datasheets, etc.

A quick search for the ISA standard yields fairly helpful articles further describing this helpful method, however industry is often slow to change. One of our major clients is leapfrogging their competition and adopting the High Performance HMI philosophy/standard.

After 20 years, it is time to stop developing HMIs with pictorial view of a Process and Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID).  The overuse of color and 3D objects should go away and companies should start adopting a High Performance HMI philosophy and style guide. Let’s start a project by determining specific objectives for the control of the process, for all modes of operation rather than with a P&ID.


Diagram 2: Shows the evolution of HMI over several decades this example provided by AutomaTech and GE Digital