Panel PC HMI


Thread Starter

Dave Millett

I am developing a solution for providing data entry on site, where the operator interface will be a panel-mounted PC. The PC will be running existing HMI software, that allows data to be entered into fields, and also carries out the
normal functions of a system HMI - graphical views, data logs, alarm handling etc.

What are flat panel PC's like to use (from an operator's viewpoint)?

The HMI software has not been designed specifically for a touch screen. The normal interface is mouse and keyboard. Is an on-screen keyboard sufficient? Would it be better to allow for a separate keyboard?

Bruno Tijink

My view as an operator (20 years)and also system-designer/builder.

Keep in mind that too much info isnt suitable for small panes, max 25 objects (yes including lines).
Hide things that dont matter for an overallview.
Make them available (password protected?) on one or more detail-pages. Make sure that an operator gets a feeling for your design ( take him/her
serious, tell him what and why you choose for a sollution) (try to find a general binding, every operator has his own way on howto etc)

Touchscreens will be handy and easy to use, the height (of the operator eyes) is though verry important, make sure that you dont forget the tall ones (like me)

Greatings Bruno
I have been selling Industrial Interfaces and computer for a long time, the answer to your
question resides in the answer to mine.

1) how big of a screen are you planning? A 10.4" screen may be too small for a full on-screen
keyboard. 12" and 15" units are fine for this.

2) What is the environment for the application? If the operators will be wearing gloves because
of metal filings, do they have dirt, grease, ink, or other crud on their hands, anything that
would not wipe off the screen or would scratchit. If yes go with an external keyboard or
membrain keypad on computer.

see "": for options

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I think you will have a problem using an on- screen keyboard, in that if the individual letter keys are big enough to use comfortably, it will take up a lot of the available display realestate. Your process graphics will end up using only about half of each screen. Some MMIs require mouse input - keyboard shortcuts do not always work as advertised.

If you have a number of operator graphics, I think a separate keyboard will be the best - it will also mimic what will be found in the control room. There are several manufacturers who make industrial keyboards with integral pointing devices, that are hardened, waterproof, etc.

Flat panel displays are very nice to look at. I don't know what their reliability is as opposed to traditional CRTs.

Depending on the location in the plant, narrower viewing angle and lower contrast are sometimes a problem.

I personally don't like touchscreens. The problem is that all kinds of people TOUCH them - people who from time to time might not have the cleanest fingers! All the touchscreens I have ever seen have ended up looking pretty disgusting. The hardened keyboards can be washed vigorously without damage, but I shudder to think of someone taking an SOS Pad to a touchscreen!

Good Luck!

Dave Millett

Thanks for the comments, everybody. The environment will be in plantrooms such as boilerhouses and generator rooms. It looks like I should go for a minimum 12" screen, and a rugged keyboard.