Chris Stearns, Rockwell Automation, outlines five ways in which modern HMI design can help make cement producers more productive.
As the world changes, so does the need for cement. With a rising global population, an additional 2.5 billion people are expected to be residing in cities by 2050, and the global demand for cement is expected to increase between 12 and 23% by this time. With a growing need for green construction and decarbonisation in the years to come, the timing has never been more urgent to find solutions that can help companies meet global emissions targets.
While more cement production facilities look to meet heightened demand and stricter global policy, larger operational changes will also need to be considered. These changes include an increased shift towards modernisation, whilst ensuring sustainable cement production, which further increases the complexity of plant operations.
Assessing operator challenges
More complex processes and automated cement plants can overwhelm operators with information and alarms, with some operations generating more than 60 alarms per minute. Based on extensive research into alarm system effectiveness, industry standards like ANSI/ISA 18.2-2016 recommend that operators can only effectively deal with up to two alarms on average every 10 minutes.
Take the kiln operation, for example. A typical single operator screen can display hundreds of variables and the operator is tasked with controlling many of them – including kiln speed, fuel rate and material feed – while delivering a stable and safe operation. To ensure operator effectiveness, it is essential to place a special focus on alarm management and the design of the human-machine interface (HMI) as a critical part of a modern distributed control system.
The importance of operator situational awareness
With a greater reliance on information, HMIs have become central points for plant decision-making. However, with the evolution of graphical capabilities and information availability, there can be a tendency to develop cumbersome operator displays with misused colours, 3D objects, animation, shapes, background photos and other functionality that distracts the operator and impedes their effectiveness.
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