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Good HMI design is essential to enabling operator effectiveness in maintaining safe and high-performing process operations. Many components contribute to the development of good Human Machine Interface (HMI) graphics. Whether the layout of the displays, utilization of colors, or approach to navigation, all are critical to presenting data in a meaningful way in the control room. Often overlooked but just as important is the representation of alarms on HMI graphics.

Good alarm representation at a minimum requires that the alarm be:

  1. Quickly identifiable – the operator should be able to recognize the abnormal situation immediately when it occurs.
  2. Easily Understandable – The operator should instantly know the alarm meaning.
  3. Immediately Actionable – The operator should know what response is required in order to quickly take action to address the alarm.

All of these attributes can be built into the alarm design, but they will not make for effective graphics if there are too many unnecessary alarms configured or too many alarm issues in a facility. These alarm problems can be addressed through good alarm management which is necessary to complement HMI design and achieve the ultimate goal of increasing operator effectiveness.