The Brief Introduction Of HMI Touch Panel

Touchscreen HMI panels (HMI, full name Human Machine Interface) are visual interfaces between operators or engineers and machines, equipment and processes. These panels enable users to monitor and control a variety of industrial processes through an intuitive touchscreen interface.HMI panels are commonly used in industrial automation to help simplify complex operations and improve productivity and safety.

Key features include:

1.Intuitive operation interface: touch screen design makes operation easier and faster.

2. Real-time data monitoring: Provides real-time data updates to help make quick decisions.

3. Programmable functions: users can customise the interface and functions according to their needs.

Touch screen HMI panels play an important role in modern industry and are a key component in achieving efficient, safe and intelligent production.

1.What is HMI panel?

Definition: HMI stands for Human Machine Interface.

Function: Provides a visual interface between machines, equipment and processes and the operator or engineer. These panels enable operators to monitor and control a variety of industrial processes through intuitive interfaces that simplify complex operations and improve productivity and safety.

Usage: Most plants use multiple HMI panels in operator-friendly locations, with each panel configured to provide the data required at that location.HMI panels are commonly used in industrial automation in industries such as manufacturing, energy, food and beverage, etc. The HMI panels are designed to allow operators to monitor and control a wide range of industrial processes. HMI panels allow operators to view and manage equipment status, production progress, and alarm information in real time, thus ensuring a smooth production process.

2. How to choose a suitable HMI panel?

Choosing the right HMI panel requires consideration of the following aspects:

Display size: Consider the size requirements of the display, usually HMI panels range in size from 3 inches to 25 inches. A small screen is suitable for simple applications, while a large screen is suitable for complex applications that require more information to be displayed.

Touch Screen: Is a touch screen needed? Touchscreens are easy to operate and responsive, but cost more. If you are on a budget, choose a model with function keys and arrow keys only.

Colour or Monochrome: Do I need a colour or monochrome display? Colour HMI panels are colourful and easy to use for status displays, but cost more; monochrome displays are good for displaying small amounts of data, such as speed feedback or time remaining, and are more economical.

Resolution: Screen resolution is required to display sufficient graphical detail or to display multiple objects on the same screen. High resolution is suitable for complex graphical interfaces.

Mounting: What type of mounting is required? Panel mount, rack mount, or handheld device. Select the appropriate mounting method according to the specific application scenario.

Protection level: What kind of protection level does the HMI need? For example, IP67 rating prevents liquid splashing and is suitable for outdoor installation or harsh environments.

Interfaces: What interfaces are needed? For example, Ethernet, Profinet, serial interface (for laboratory instruments, RFID scanners or barcode readers), etc. Are multiple interface types required?

Software Requirements: What kind of software support is needed? Are OPC or specialised drivers required to access data from the controller?

Custom Programmes: Is there a need for custom programmes to run on the HMI terminal, such as barcode software or inventory application interfaces?

Windows Support: Does the HMI need to support Windows and its file system, or is a vendor-supplied HMI application sufficient?

3.What are the features of HMI panel?Display Size

HMI (Human Machine Interface) panels are available in display sizes ranging from 3 inches to 25 inches. Choosing the right size depends on the application scenario and user needs. Small screen size is suitable for occasions where space is limited, while large screen size is suitable for complex applications that require the display of more information.

Touch Screen

The need for a touchscreen is an important consideration. Touchscreens provide a more intuitive and convenient operating experience, but at a higher cost. If the budget is limited or the application does not require frequent human-computer interaction, you can choose a non-touch screen.

Colour or Monochrome

The need for a colour display is also a factor to consider. Colour displays provide richer visuals and are suitable for situations where different states need to be distinguished or complex graphics need to be displayed. However, monochrome displays are less costly and are suitable for applications where only simple information needs to be displayed.


The screen resolution determines the clarity of display details. It is necessary to select the appropriate resolution for the specific application. A high resolution is suitable for scenes where complex graphics or fine data are to be displayed, while a low resolution is suitable for displaying simple information.

Mounting Methods

HMI panel mounting methods include panel mounting, bracket mounting, and handheld devices. The choice of mounting method depends on the usage environment and ease of operation. Panel mounting is suitable for use in a fixed location, bracket mounting provides flexibility, and handheld devices are easy to operate on the move.

Protection Rating

The protection rating of an HMI panel determines its reliability in harsh environments. For example, an IP67 rating protects against dust and water and is suitable for use in outdoor or industrial environments. For milder applications, such a high level of protection may not be required.


Which interfaces are required depends on the system integration needs. Common interfaces include Ethernet, Profinet and serial interfaces. Ethernet is suitable for network communications, Profinet for industrial automation, and serial interfaces are widely used in legacy equipment.

Software Requirements

Software requirements are also an important consideration. Is OPC (Open Platform Communication) support or specific drivers required? This depends on the integration needs of the HMI with other systems. If compatibility with a wide range of devices and systems is required, OPC support can be very useful.

Custom Programmes

Is it necessary to run custom programmes on the HMI terminal? This depends on the complexity of the application and individual requirements. Supporting custom programs can provide more functionality and flexibility, but may also increase system complexity and development costs.

Support for Windows

Does the HMI need to support Windows and its file system? Supporting Windows can provide broader software compatibility and a familiar user interface, but may also increase system cost and complexity. If the application needs are simpler, you can choose HMI devices that do not support Windows.

4. Who is using HMI?

Industries: HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) are used in a wide variety of industries as follows:

EnergyIn the energy industry, HMIs are used to monitor and control power generation equipment, substations and transmission networks. Operators can use HMIs to view the operating status of power systems in real time, monitor the efficiency of energy production and distribution, and ensure system stability and safety.

Food and Beverage

The food and beverage industry uses HMIs to control and monitor all aspects of production lines, including mixing, processing, packaging and filling. With HMIs, operators can automate production processes, increase productivity and ensure consistent product quality.


In the manufacturing industry, HMIs are widely used to operate and monitor equipment such as automated production lines, CNC machine tools, and industrial robots.HMIs provide an intuitive interface that allows operators to easily monitor production status, adjust production parameters, and respond quickly to faults or alarms.

Oil and Gas

The oil and gas industry uses HMIs to monitor the operation of drilling rigs, refineries, and pipelines. HMIs help operators monitor critical parameters such as pressure, temperature, and flow rate to ensure proper equipment operation and prevent potential safety hazards.


In the power industry, HMIs are used to monitor and manage power plants, substations and distribution systems. With HMI, engineers can view the operating status of power equipment in real time, perform remote operation and troubleshooting to ensure the reliability and safety of the power system.


HMIs are used in the recycling industry to control and monitor the operation of waste treatment and recycling equipment, helping operators to optimise the recycling process, improve recycling efficiency and reduce energy consumption and environmental pollution.


HMIs are used in the transport industry for systems such as traffic signal control, train scheduling and vehicle monitoring.HMIs provide real-time traffic information to help operators manage traffic and improve traffic flow and safety.

Water and Wastewater

The water and wastewater industry uses HMIs to monitor and control the operation of water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants, and pipeline networks.HMIs help operators monitor water quality parameters, adjust treatment processes, and ensure that water treatment processes are efficient and environmentally friendly.

Roles: People in different roles have different needs and responsibilities when using HMIs:


Operators are the direct users of the HMI, who perform daily operations and monitoring through the HMI interface. They need an intuitive and easy-to-use interface to view system status, adjust parameters, and handle alarms and faults.

System Integrator

System integrators are responsible for integrating HMIs with other devices and systems to ensure they work together seamlessly. They need to understand the interfaces and communication protocols of the different systems in order to optimise the functionality and performance of the HMI.

Engineers (especially control system engineers)Control Systems Engineers design and maintain HMI systems. They need to have in-depth expertise to write and debug HMI programmes, configure hardware and software parameters, and ensure the reliability and safety of HMI systems. They also need to optimise the system according to specific application requirements to improve the HMI user experience and operational efficiency.

5. What are some common uses of HMIs?

Communication with PLCs and input/output sensors to acquire and display informationHMI (Human Machine Interface) is commonly used to communicate with PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) and various input/output sensors. The HMI allows the operator to acquire sensor data, such as temperature, pressure, flow rate, etc., in real time and display this information on the screen.The PLC manages the various operations of the industrial process by controlling these sensors and actuators, while the HMI provides an intuitive interface that allows the operator to easily monitor and adjust system parameters.

Optimising industrial processes and improving efficiency through digitised and centralised dataHMIs play a key role in optimising industrial processes. With HMI, operators can digitally monitor and manage the entire production line, and centralised data allows all key information to be displayed and analysed in one interface. This centralised data management helps to quickly identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies and make timely adjustments, thus improving productivity and resource utilisation. In addition, the HMI can record historical data to help managers make long-term trend analysis and optimisation decisions.

Display important information (e.g. charts and digital dashboards), manage alarms, connect to SCADA, ERP and MES systemsThe HMI is able to display important information in a variety of forms, including charts and digital dashboards, making it more intuitive to read and understand data. Operators can easily monitor the system’s operating status and key indicators through these visualisation tools. When the system is abnormal or reaches the preset alarm conditions, the HMI will issue an alarm in time to remind the operator to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety and continuity of production.

In addition, the HMI can be connected to advanced management systems such as SCADA (data acquisition and monitoring system), ERP (enterprise resource planning) and MES (manufacturing execution system) to achieve seamless data transmission and sharing. This integration can open up information silos, making data flow between different systems smoother and improving the operational efficiency and informationisation level of the entire enterprise. For example, SCADA system can obtain the data of field equipment through HMI for centralised monitoring and control; ERP system can obtain the production data through HMI for resource planning and scheduling; MES system can carry out the execution and management of production process through HMI.

Through the above aspects of the detailed introduction, you can fully understand the common use of HMI in the industrial process, and how it is through communication, data centralisation and system integration, etc., to improve the efficiency and safety of industrial production.

6.Difference between HMI and SCADA

HMI: Focuses on visual information communication to help users supervise industrial processesHMI (Human Machine Interface) is mainly used to provide intuitive visual information communication, which helps users to supervise and manage industrial processes by displaying system status and operational data through a graphical interface.The main features and functions of HMI include:

Intuitive graphical interface: HMI displays information in the form of graphs, charts, digital dashboards, etc. so that operators can easily understand and monitor the operating status of the system.Real-time monitoring: HMI is able to display sensor data and equipment status in real time, helping operators to quickly identify and solve problems.Simplified operation: Through HMI, operators can easily adjust system parameters, start or stop equipment, and perform basic control tasks.Alarm management: HMI is able to set and manage alarms, notifying operators to take measures in time when the system is abnormal to ensure production safety.User-friendliness: HMI interface design focuses on user experience, simple operation, easy to learn and use, suitable for field operators to carry out daily monitoring and operation.SCADA: Data collection and control system operation with more powerful functionsSCADA (data acquisition and monitoring system) is a more complex and powerful system, mainly used for large-scale industrial automation process of data collection and control. the main features and functions of SCADA include:

Data Acquisition: SCADA systems are capable of collecting large amounts of data from multiple distributed sensors and devices, storing and processing it. This data can include various parameters such as temperature, pressure, flow rate, voltage, etc.Centralised control: SCADA systems provide centralised control functions, enabling remote operation and management of equipment and systems distributed in different geographic locations to achieve comprehensive automation control.Advanced analysis: SCADA system has powerful data analysis and processing capabilities, trend analysis, historical data query, report generation and other functions, to help management personnel for decision-making support.System integration: SCADA system can be integrated with other enterprise management systems (e.g. ERP, MES, etc.) to achieve seamless data transmission and sharing, and enhance the overall operational efficiency of the enterprise.High Reliability: SCADA systems are designed for high reliability and high availability, suitable for monitoring and management of critical industrial processes, and capable of stable operation in harsh environments.

7.HMI Panel Application Examplesa Full-function HMI

Full-featured HMI panels are suitable for application scenarios that require high performance and rich functionality. Their specific needs include:

At least 12-inch touch screen: Large-size touch screen provides more display space and better user experience, which makes it easy for operators to view and operate complex interfaces.Seamless scaling: Support seamless scaling function, able to adjust the screen size according to different display needs, to ensure the clarity and completeness of information display.Integration with Siemens TIA Portal software: Integration with Siemens TIA Portal (Totally Integrated Automation Portal) software makes programming, commissioning and maintenance easier and more efficient.Network security: With network security function, it can protect the HMI system from network attack and data leakage to ensure the safe operation of the system.Automatic programme backup function: supports automatic programme backup function, which can regularly backup system programme and data to prevent data loss and improve system reliability.This full-featured HMI panel is suitable for complex industrial automation systems, such as large-scale manufacturing production lines, energy management systems and so on.

b Basic HMI

Basic HMI panels are suitable for application scenarios that have limited budgets but still require basic functionality. Its specific needs include:

Integration with Siemens TIA Portal: Despite limited budget, integration with Siemens TIA Portal software is still required for basic programming and debugging functions.Basic functionality: such as the KTP 1200, this HMI panel provides basic display and operating functions for simpler control and monitoring tasks.Cost-effective: This HMI panel is usually less expensive and suitable for smaller businesses or projects with limited budgets.Basic HMI panels are suitable for simple industrial control systems such as small processing equipment, monitoring and control of a single production process, etc.

c Wireless Network HMI

Wireless network HMI panels are suitable for application scenarios that require wireless communication capabilities. Their specific needs include:

Wireless communication: The ability to communicate with the controller via a wireless network reduces the complexity and cost of wiring and increases system flexibility.Application example: such as the Maple Systems HMI 5103L, this HMI panel can be used in environments such as tank farms where wireless communication is required to facilitate remote monitoring and operation.Mobility: The wireless network HMI panel can be moved freely and is suitable for scenarios that require operation and monitoring from different locations.Wireless network HMI panels are suitable for use in application scenarios that require flexible layout and mobile operation, such as tank farms and mobile equipment operation.

d Ethernet I/P connection

Ethernet I/P connection HMI panels are suitable for application scenarios that require connection to an Ethernet/I/P network. Their specific needs include:

Ethernet/I/P Connection: Supports the Ethernet/I/P protocol, enabling communication with other devices on the network for fast data transfer and sharing.Application Example: Like the PanelView Plus 7 standard model, this HMI panel can easily connect to existing Ethernet/I/P networks for efficient system integration and control.Reliability: Ethernet I/P connectivity provides high reliability and stability for critical industrial control systems.Ethernet I/P connection HMI panels are suitable for industrial automation systems that require efficient network communication and data sharing, such as large-scale manufacturing and process control systems.

8.The difference between HMI display and touch screen displaya HMI display includes hardware and software

HMI (human-machine interface) display is not just a display device, it includes both hardware and software parts, which can provide complete interaction and control functions.Hardware part:Display: HMI displays are usually LCD or LED screens, ranging in size from small to large, and can display a variety of graphics and text information.Touch screen: Many HMI displays have an integrated touch screen that allows the user to operate by touch.Processor and memory: HMI displays have an inbuilt processor and memory for running control software and storing data.Interfaces: HMI displays are often equipped with a variety of interfaces, such as Ethernet, USB, and serial interfaces for connecting to PLCs, sensors, and other devices.Software component:Operating system: HMI displays usually run an embedded operating system, such as Windows CE, Linux or a dedicated real-time operating system.Control Software: HMI displays run dedicated control and monitoring software that provides a graphical user interface (GUI) and control logic.Data processing and display: HMI software is able to process data coming from sensors and control devices and display it on the screen in the form of graphs, charts, alarms and so on.Communication and Integration: HMI software can communicate and integrate data with other systems (e.g. SCADA, ERP, MES, etc.) to achieve comprehensive automation control and monitoring.

b Touch screen display is only the hardware part

Touch screen displays contain only the hardware part, there is no built-in control and monitoring software, so they cannot be used alone for complex industrial control and monitoring tasks.

Hardware part:

Display: The touch screen display is primarily an LCD or LED screen that provides basic display functionality.Touch Sensor: The touch screen is equipped with a touch sensor that allows the user to perform input operations by touch. Common touch technologies are capacitive, infrared and resistive.Controllers: Touch screen displays have built-in touch controllers for processing touch input signals and transmitting them to connected computing devices.Interface: Touch screen displays are usually equipped with interfaces such as USB, HDMI, VGA, etc. for connecting to a computer or other display control device.No built-in software: Touch screen display only serves as an input and display device, and does not contain an operating system or control software itself; it needs to be connected to an external computing device (e.g., a PC, an industrial controller) in order to realise its full functionality.

9. Do HMI display products have an operating system?

HMI products have system software componentsHMI (Human Machine Interface) products are not just hardware devices, they also contain system software components that provide HMIs with the ability to operate and control them in industrial automation and monitoring systems.

System software functions:

User Interface: provides a graphical user interface (GUI) that enables operators to intuitively monitor and control industrial processes.Data Processing: Processes data from sensors and control devices and displays it in the form of graphs, charts, numbers, etc.Communication protocols: Support a variety of communication protocols, such as Modbus, Profinet, Ethernet/IP, etc., to achieve connection and data exchange with PLC, sensors, SCADA and other devices.Alarm management: Setting and managing alarm conditions, notifying operators in time when the system is abnormal.Historical data recording: Record and store historical data for subsequent analysis and optimisation.High-performance HMI products usually run embedded operating systems, such as WinCE and Linux.High-performance HMI products usually run embedded operating systems, which provide HMIs with more processing power and higher reliability.

Common embedded operating systems:

Windows CE: Windows CE is a lightweight embedded operating system widely used in HMI products. It provides a rich graphical interface and powerful network functions, and supports a variety of industrial communication protocols.Linux: Linux is an open source operating system with high stability and customisability. Many high-performance HMI products use Linux as the operating system to achieve more flexible functions and higher security.

Advantages of embedded operating systems:

Real-time: Embedded operating systems usually have good real-time performance and can respond quickly to changes in industrial processes.Stability: Embedded operating systems are optimised for high stability and reliability for long-term operation.Security: Embedded operating systems usually have a high level of security, able to resist various network attacks and data leakage risks.Customisation: Embedded operating systems can be customised according to specific application requirements, providing functions that are more in line with actual needs.

10.The future development trend of HMI display

HMI products will become more and more feature-richWith the development of technology, HMI (Human Machine Interface) products will become more and more feature-rich to meet the growing demand for industrial automation.

Smarter user interfaces: Future HMIs will have smarter user interfaces that can provide a more personalised and intelligent operating experience through artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.

Enhanced networking capabilities: HMI products will further enhance their networking capabilities by supporting more industrial communication protocols, enabling seamless connectivity and data exchange with more devices and systems.

Data analytics and forecasting: HMIs of the future will integrate more powerful data analytics and forecasting capabilities to help companies conduct real-time monitoring and optimise decision-making to improve productivity and quality.

Remote monitoring and control: With the development of the Industrial Internet of Things, HMI products will support more comprehensive remote monitoring and control functions, enabling operators to manage and operate industrial systems anytime, anywhere.

All HMI products over 5.7 inches will have colour displays and longer screen lifeIn the future, all HMI products 5.7 inches and above will adopt colour displays, providing richer visual effects and better user experience.

Colour displays: Colour displays can show more information, use graphics and colours to differentiate between different states and data, and improve the readability and visualisation of information.

Extended screen life: With the advancement of display technology, future HMI colour displays will have a longer life and higher reliability, and will be able to operate stably for a long time in harsh industrial environments.

High-end HMI products will focus mainly on tablet PCs

The trend of high-end HMI products will focus on tablet PCs, providing a more flexible and multi-functional operating platform.

Tablet PC platform: The future high-end HMI will more often use the tablet PC as a platform, using its powerful computing power and portability to provide more powerful functions and more flexible use.

Multi-touch and gesture control: Tablet HMIs will support multi-touch and gesture control, making operations more intuitive and convenient.

Mobility and Portability: Tablet HMI is highly mobile and portable, operators can carry and use it anytime and anywhere, which is suitable for different industrial scenarios.

Rich application ecosystem: HMI based on tablet platform can take advantage of the rich application ecosystem, integrating various industrial applications and tools, and improving the system’s scalability and functionality.

Media Contact
Company Name: Guangdong Computer Intelligent Display Co., Ltd.
Email: Send Email
Country: China

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