Don’t forget to pay attention to hardware certifications including Underwriters Laboratories (cULus), NEMA 4, NEMA4/12, IP65 (Panel Mounting Ratings), CE Certifications, RoHS listings, and Class I-Division II ratings (for the MicroOITs) — all good indications about the reliability and durability of the product.

Also, it’s helpful to utilize an HMI with configuration software that will let you test your application ahead of time on your PC to get a sense for its performance.

Perhaps the most critical aspect of any HMI display panel is to consider the technical support received when something goes wrong. An HMI glitch can literally mean a plant shutdown. Be sure your HMI provider has a good, long-term record of providing solid technical support with real engineers. Remember that the real price of an HMI includes the costs incurred when something goes wrong.

Also, don’t forget to check into your provider’s repair department. You don’t want to have your operation on hold while your HMI is being shipped overseas for repair.

The choices are many, but the wide range of prices and capabilities give you more options for both your budget and your automation goals. Just remember to first do your research on both the product and the company that provides it.

This article was written by Jeff Maki, Communications Specialist for Maple Systems Inc. in Everett, WA. For more information, visit