The complexity of machine control is increasing, as is the number of HMI variants. Operators often work with multiple machines, which makes orientation that much more difficult. To address this, the HMI Cluster and VDMA have joined forces to create a uniform standard. “We set up the cluster together with Fritzmeier because we felt that a cross-manufacturer standard would be very important going forward,” explains Ralf Lüddemann, Commercial Manager of the Technology Department of the Leonhard Weiss construction company. “This starts with the use of the same symbols per operating group, continues with the positioning of the operating groups and extends to the redundant control of safety functions.” At bauma 2019, the current cluster members hope to get additional OEMs, accessory manufacturers, associations, universities, system integrators and display manufacturers to join the cluster.
Training machine operators is costly and time-consuming, and in the construction industry as elsewhere qualified employees are hard to find. Interested applicants from outside the country often face the problem that operating interfaces are not multilingual, making a knowledge of German necessary. In addition, the complexity of machines is increasing while control designs differ from one machine to another, and are often non-intuitive. “The reason for this is that up until now every OEM had its own HMI and there was no coordination between different manufacturers,” explains Fritz Schadeck, Vice President Sales & Marketing at Fritzmeier CABS. “In part this is because formerly not much standard hardware or software was available.” This gave rise to complex HMI architectures with logic that took time for operators to learn, even within the same machine category.
This joint initiative of Fritzmeier CABS, Leonhard Weiss and the VDMA and HDB is intended to drive a solution for this problem together with as many other participants as possible. Alexandra Herrmann, Director Marketing & Communication at Fritzmeier CABS, says, “With this move we hope to develop and implement a uniform HMI concept, without endangering the individuality of OEM products in design and function. This will only work if all the players are on board – and it will benefit everyone in the industry, especially the users.” The first steps have been taken towards creating a standard interface for different machine types and add-on devices, that can be used globally and works with pictograms instead of language. If users are always guided through applications in the same way, the result will be increased efficiency and work safety. “One aspect that should be kept in mind is that it will also reduce the development costs for individual manufacturers, since the results of the cluster’s work will be usable by all participants.”