Market for HMI services is predicted to expand

Paul Boughton
A new study from ARC Advisory Group, 'Human Machine Interface Software and Services Worldwide Outlook,' predicts that a rapidly growing market for HMI (human-machine interface) services will be driven by end users' and OEMs' needs for additional supplier-provided technical expertise to support HMI software and systems, as end users and OEMs will not fully replace the internal support personnel lost during the recent recession. As a result, the HMI software and services market is in a period of recovery, with the services portion expected to grow at a higher rate than the total market.
The weakness in the global economy had a major impact on the worldwide HMI software and services market. However, stronger growth is expected to resume during the latter part of the five-year forecast period, as users replace HMI software based on older operating systems with new software packages based on operating systems designed with security in mind. ARC's research director, and the principal author of the new report, Craig Resnick states: "Security issues presented by older operating systems will drive upgrades from legacy HMI software to the latest HMI platforms. The security issue, combined with the greater use of more powerful, 64-bit microprocessors, will shift users from HMI solutions based on Windows XP or Server 2003 platforms to those based on Windows 7 or Server 2008."
HMI software that focused on the building automation industry and other non-manufacturing applications experienced the most rapid growth. This HMI software was applied in either off-the-shelf or embedded forms and was accompanied by a full range of HMI services. Off-the-shelf HMI software products are largely replacing proprietary, device-specific software that often lacks the full feature set and adherence to industry standards found in the latest HMI software. In the traditional HMI software markets, growth is accelerating in the rapidly expanding process and infrastructure industries such as oil and gas, water and waste, electric power, food and beverage, and mining and metals.
Maximising operator effectiveness is essential to minimise the risks of accidents, eliminate unscheduled downtime, and maximise production quality. This necessitates deploying the latest HMI software packages designed for 'ergonometrics,' where increased ergonomics help increase KPI (key performance indicator) and metric results. These offer the best resolution to support 3D systems and visualisation based on technologies such as Microsoft Silverlight. Integrating real-time live video into HMI software tools provide another excellent opportunity to maximise operator effectiveness. Live video provides a 'fourth dimension' for intelligent visualisation and control.
The Asia Pacific and Latin American HMI software and services markets will be the fastest growing regions, according to ARC, while North America and EMEA will grow at a considerably slower rate. ARC believes that the slower forecasted growth in North America and EMEA is because a significant amount of HMI software has already been adopted in these mature markets. Greenfield and expansions in process industries, such as chemical, electric power, mining and metals, oil and gas, pulp and paper, and refining, as well as growth in the discrete industries in China and India, are helping to drive the HMI software and services markets in Asia Pacific and Latin America.
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