Clarifying the Use of Color in HMIs

The discussion over the value of high-performance HMIs continues with a focus on the negative reactions often created by the gray screen HMI approach.

A screenshot of a Wonderware high-performance HMI screen.
A screenshot of a Wonderware high-performance HMI screen.

Having written several blog posts and articles on the topic of high-performance HMIs over the past few years (links to some of my more recent posts can be found at the end of this article), I thought interest in the topic might be dying down a bit. However, it seems like this topic continues to generate a great deal of interest.

Most recently, I spoke with John Krajewski, director of product management for HMI/Supervisory products at Invensys Wonderware. He pointed out that, in his work with manufacturers over the years, he too has heard much of the same feedback (as expressed in my most recent blog post on the topic) from his customers about the gray color palettes being recommended by the ASM Consortium or the “High-Performance HMI Handbook”.

Most of this feedback involves “a concern for the process graphics being too boring or visually unappealing,” Krajewski says.

The bigger issue, Krajewski notes is that “overall there has been inconsistency in recommendations and a lack of clarity around how color in HMIs can be used effectively. The use of color is a small—but significant—aspect of improving HMI design. Unfortunately many other key aspects are being overlooked as people shy away due to a negative reaction to what some refer to as the ‘black-and-white TV approach in an era of ultra-high definition.’”

Convinced of the value in improved HMI design, Krajewski created a series of videos that address numerous aspects of situational awareness in terms of the role HMIs play. One in particular (which can be seen below) specifically addresses the use of color and the difference in operator perception between highly graphical HMIs and the gray-screen, high-performance HMI type of screen.

Krajewski also created a white paper to assist end users in their “journey” toward understanding and accepting the high-performance HMI approach. (Access the white paper here.)

Other recent articles on the High-Performance HMI topic:

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