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Comparing automatic labeling machines? 8 must-have HMI features

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Improving OEE

Consumer products manufacturers are always exploring ways to improve operational efficiency. To improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) requires procurement and engineering leaders to solve a handful of key challenges, which include improving operator training, quickly resolving unplanned downtime, and streamlining access to technical support services.

With consideration of these challenges, today’s manufacturers of automatic labeling machines have invested in developing human machine interfaces (HMI) that can significantly improve OEE. These HMIs can provide greater access to training resources, intuitive technical documentation, and technical support for on-the-spot troubleshooting.

In this post, I’ll explain how smart HMIs can improve operational efficiency for consumer products companies and provide a list of HMI features to consider when purchasing a new labeling machine.

How Smart HMIs are Changing the Market

HMI technology has improved rapidly over the past three years. Instead of the flashing warning light of years gone by, today’s HMIs can display an image of the machine, place an indicator where the exact fault is and provide instructions for how to resolve the issue. They offer significant advances in user experience including improved graphics, enhanced connectivity, larger screen sizes, and multi-touch functionality. They also provide greater access, not only to a machine in its current state, but also to information that can be used to improve the machine’s performance throughout its lifecycle.

Advanced panel-based HMIs, such as Accraply’s SmartLink HMI, are forecasted to achieve a high market growth rate due to the demand for mobile HMIs. The ability to connect with a machine remotely and to access all the information required to provide greater insight into labeling operations, and thereby increase the overall productivity of the plant, is more desirable than ever. COVID-19 has also reinforced the importance of remote connectivity and simplification of operations. 

Labeling HMI Checklist

When choosing an automatic labeling machine, there are several HMI-related criteria that should be considered that can improve OEE. Below is a list of questions that can be used to evaluate labeling machine HMIs and compare options from various suppliers.

Operator Training Resources

How will this HMI improve operator training? Some HMIs include video tutorials and on-demand training guides to make setup and operations simple. They can also come with step-by-step setup guides for key functions, maintenance, and fault recovery processes.

Streamlined Troubleshooting

Does the HMI provide links and instructional steps to help you clear faults? HMIs can walk operators through the steps to resolve the fault and reset the machine. Having this functionality as a part of the HMI means operators don’t have to consult with manuals. They can address the issue on the spot.

Preventative Maintenance Reminders

Does it allow you to schedule preventative maintenance reminders? Reminders can appear as daily, weekly, and monthly tasks for your operator and maintenance team. By taking a proactive approach to machine maintenance, operators stand a better chance of avoiding unplanned downtime. 

User Levels

Can you control access and accountability? To drive consistency of performance, some HMIs allow you to set different user levels, limiting access to parameters and/or range of adjustments, as you deem necessary.

Offsite Connectivity

Can the HMI  connect  remotely? For example, some HMIs allow operators to access machine configuration offsite and even allow them to set-up audit trail information from a computer, tablet, or smart phone.

Remote Support

Does the labeling machine manufacturer provide remote support via the HMI? Having your OEM remote into the machine via the HMI can help operators resolve issues more quickly and cost-effectively.

Rapid Changeovers

Is the HMI designed to accommodate rapid changeovers? Some HMIs store recipes and provide video changeover guides to assist operators in reducing downtime between changeovers.

Productivity Reporting

Can the HMI show complex data such as machine OEE in real time? This feature can show operators where a fault lies and offer remedies to fix that fault, which can help improve the long-term effectiveness of the machine. This feature can be accessed on screen and in real time via video assistance.

Accraply’s SmartLink HMI

Through a partnership with the Intelligent Systems group at BW Packaging Systems, Accraply has designed an HMI that satisfies all of the criteria listed above. Based on customer feedback, the SmartLink HMI simplifies operation and training, and provides greater access to an advanced analytics dashboard. The HMI comes standard with Accraply’s Sirius 100 Pressure Sensitive Labeler and as an option with the Sirius MK6 pharmaceutical grade labeler, amongst other labelers in the company. Visit Accraply's Human Machine Interfaces page to learn more about HMIs for labeling machines.  

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20210107_Tec-Wright-1About the Author: Tec Wright

Tec Wright has over 30 years of industrial automation experience in a wide range of packaging environments. Specializing in software control and operator interfaces, he understands the need to balance intuitive machine operations with flexibility, reliability, ease of changeovers and ease of use. Tec is Accraply’s UK engineering leader and is also responsible for electrical engineering leadership globally.