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  • Writer's pictureShashank Ranebennur

Effective testing of HMIs using Robotic Arm

The Human Machine Interface (HMI) is the interface between the machine or a setup and the operators – in essence an operator’s dashboard. This is the primary tool by which operators and line supervisors coordinate and control the industrial and manufacturing processes in the plant.

HMIs serve to translate complex process variables into usable and actionable information.

An HMI offers a visual representation of the operation of the machine providing real-time data and also gives access to important parameters of the machine to its users.

HMIs are, therefore, one of the most widely used devices in the industry. As the demands of a commissioned machine or a system in an industry are ever increasing, so is the complexity of operations a HMI needs to perform.

With the increase in the capability of HMIs comes the increase in test cases that need to be carried out on them, before they are released into the market.

The major challenge now is the time required for such tests to be thoroughly carried out, and effectiveness of these tests.

Earlier, with fewer combinations of UI and minimal complexities in a HMI, test could be performed by a dedicated person within a few hours. These tests would include stability of the UI, and physical aspects – such as what is the minimum force of touch required to trigger an option on the screen and what would be the maximum limit. But as mentioned earlier, the complexity of the current devices mean that these tests simply cannot be performed manually.

Ekzen Robotics designed and developed an efficient test bench keeping the above in mind: an efficient, reliable, accurate and fast HMI testing system using an industrial SCARA robotic arm. The entire system can be operated 24*7 without the need for any human supervision.

The custom made tool can be used with both resistive and capacitive touch. The fixture can accommodate size variations from 4“ to 15” . Communication with the robot is done using TCP/IP protocol thereby reducing the hassle of hundreds of tangled wires. The robot touches each icon in the screen with great precision and accuracy.

This is achieved with the help of vision system. This system dynamically generates coordinates depending the response on the HMI according to robot’s touch.

Salient features:

· Hundreds of screens will be tested within a matter of minutes.

· Highly reliable, easy to use and fast.

· Can be adjusted to test different sizes of HMI’s from 4 inch’’ to 10 inch’’ according to customer requirements.

· Robot and the testing process can be controlled through TCP/IP communication. No hassle of hundreds of I/O wires.

· Efficient system and robot tool design.

· Testing can be done continuously without stopping according to customer requirements, without manual intervention.

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