I used to always ask suppliers of HMI or operator interface products or even other products if there was a science to developing interfaces. I’d often get blank stares. I’ve asked the same thing about developing dashboards–same response most of the time.

The world is changing. A couple of years ago, Emerson Process Management unveiled its Human Centered Design initiative. At the last Exchange user group, I got a tour of the “Usability Experience.” After the tour it was easy to see the benefits of designing things taking into account how people use them at work and not just what looks good to the engineer. Human-centered design is one of those ideas that looks like common sense in retrospect.

Jim Cahill at Emerson Process Experts today wrote, “I came across some information from Emerson’s Carter Cartwright, a member of the Fisher Valve & Instruments team, about another product released based on this HCD approach–the DLC3020f Fieldbus digital level controller. The objective of this development was to create a Foundation fieldbus-based level instrument that would improve level measurement and provide operators and maintenance technicians a simpler view into the operating and diagnostic information.”

Watch for the December 2010 issue of Automation World which will be online during the first week of December. We Iversen has a great description of the Emerson initiative plus what other companies such as ABB, Invensys Operations Management and Rockwell Automation are doing. (I just proofread it today.) There is some cool stuff brewing in the industry.

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