Simplifying Human Interfaces via Dashboards

I had a sneak peak at an upcoming article on human interface design by Emerson’s Tom Wallace. You may recall Tom from some of our earlier smart device and digital communications protocol posts.

In the article, Tom notes the unrelenting drive to simplify, given the ever-increasing body of knowledge that plant engineers must master. Automation suppliers can help by embracing human centered design principles to remove steps, required training, and complexity in their products. As technology advances, the ability of the products to do more increases. This means that there is more to learn and understand to take advantage of the increased amount of information/capabilities in all parts of the process automation system.

Dashboard Overview of Rosemount 3144 Temperature Transmitter

A dashboard is a user interface strategy that allows users to interact with field devices in a simple and consistent way. It is a window into a body of data. Given the sheer number of devices in plants, the dashboard should provide a consistent view and navigation method across different types of devices and present any issues in an intuitive way to help operators and instrument technicians diagnose the problem and take proper remedial action. This dashboard should help operators and technicians determine a device’s operating status and how to properly set it up, calibrate it, troubleshoot it, and maintain and repair it.

In a well-functioning design, the work to be performed is guided with feedback so that the person always knows what to do next, and if the prior step was successful. Also, data provided in a graphical view is easier to understand that data presented in tabular fashion. Tom highlights some statistics that by optimizing the user interface through these design principles, users can increase productivity up to eight times, and reduce human error up to 40 times.

One of the guiding principles around human-centered design is to reduce unnecessary information and steps around the task at hand. This makes the technology subservient to its intended user, rather than the user being subservient to the technology.

I’ve only scratched the surface of the great points Tom makes in the article. I’ll post a link to it once it is published and available online which is expected to be in the July timeframe.

5 comments

  1. #PAuto A dashboard overview of information from smart field devices can help reduce complexity and make it usable.

  2. Jonas Berge says:

    If you are interested to know more about the benefits of dashboards for different kinds of devices, you can go on a deep-dive with these articles:

    Pressure Transmitter
    http://www.iaasiaonline.com/?pname=news&nc=im&nid=173
    http://www.pacetoday.com.au/Article/Pressure-unplugged/204884.aspx
     
    pH analyzer
    http://www.waterwastewaterasia.com/WWA_archive/SeptOct08/42t45.pdf
     
    Radar Level Transmitter
    http://www.pacetoday.com.au/Article/Level-made-easy/428649.aspx
     
    Guided Wave Radar Level Transmitters
    http://www.processonline.com.au/articles/34104-New-EDDL-is-guiding-radar-interface-level-made-easy-
     
    Coriolis Flowmeters
    http://www.ceasiamag.com/article-5644-timeforcalibration-LogisticsAsia.html
     
    Magnetic Flowmeters
    http://www.eddl.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/Articles/pg42-47-1-MAG3.pdf
     
    Ultrasonic Flowmeters
    http://www.eddl.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/Articles/AOG_MAR_APR10.pdf
     
    Vibration Transmitters
    http://www.ceasiamag.com/article-6542-valuefromvibration-LogisticsAsia.html
     
    Variable Speed Drives
    http://www.ceasiamag.com/article-6631-thedigitaldrive-LogisticsAsia.html
     
    Temperature Transmitters
    http://www.iaasiaonline.com/?pname=news&nc=im&nid=224
    http://www.ceasiamag.com/article-4987-turninguptheheat-LogisticsAsia.html
    http://www.iaasiaonline.com/?pname=news&nc=im&nid=1347
     
    Level Switch
    http://www.ceasiamag.com/article-7425-switchingtowireless-LogisticsAsia.html
     
    Motor Operated Valves (MOV) / Electric Actuators
    http://www.ceasiamag.com/article-7594-thevalveconnection-LogisticsAsia.html
     
    Gas Chromatographs
    http://gastoday.com.au/news/gc_made_easy_integrating_process_gas_chromatographs/056780/
     
    Cheers,
    Jonas

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