Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Live video improves operator performance

June 1, 2010
By Mary Del

Adding live video to today’s HMI operator stations in automation and process control can play an important role in improving a company’s ergonometrics, while also enhancing safety, security, and regulatory compliance, according to a new brief by the ARC Advisory Board.
“Most HMI solutions only provide the operator with a partial view of what’s happening across the entire process,” says Resnick. “When real-time live video and other external applications are not well integrated with the display, the operator is confronted with many different types of visualization tools and unsynchronized data. This breeds confusion.”
For operators to make the correct decisions quickly, they require synchronized and appropriately contextualized information. “This is only possible when the applications have been well integrated into the HMI, enabling all information – including live video, documentation and operator instructions, and maintenance and production data – to be presented on any screen at any time,” explains Resnick.
ARC believes that video is the key to maximizing operator performance. “Since it’s well accepted that ‘seeing is believing,’ integrating real-time live video into human machine interface (HMI) tools provides an excellent opportunity to maximize operator effectiveness and ergonometrics,” he says. “Live video adds a ‘fourth dimension’ to today’s excellent intelligent visualization and control solutions. Integrated, recorded video can also improve operator training and provide cause-and-effect insight for process improvements.”
Most companies in the fast-growing remote video monitoring space have plenty of expertise in basic video technology. However, providing real-time video that effectively integrates and synchronizes live visualization with industrial applications to provide operators with contextualized information requires significant additional expertise. ARC warns that adding video to HMIs is not a simple matter.
“Specifically, it requires expertise in specialized areas such as HMI hardware and software, manufacturing execution systems (MES), data recording and historization systems, and industrial networks,” notes Resnick. “It requires a thorough understanding of how industrial plants operate, specific safety and security requirements, and regulatory compliance issues. The company must also understand distributed system architecture, automation industry standards, and Microsoft software development tools. Ideally, the company should also understand the manufacturing-related business drivers across a wide range of industries, such as water & wastewater, power utilities, oil & gas production, food & beverage, pharmaceuticals, and discrete parts manufacturing.”

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