This article is from Rich Harwell ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) who is an advanced solutions manager at Eaton. He has more than 25 years of experience in the electrical industry, with expertise in a broad range of control and automation solutions.  We thank him for this informative information.

The integration of a human machine interface (HMI) and programmable logic controller (PLC) provides a lean automation solution. Lean manufacturing is a proven, powerful method to boost efficiencies in production processes. Similar concepts and practices that eliminate “waste”—unnecessary equipment and process steps—can be applied to the design, construction, and support of automation systems to enable increased productivity and reliability, yielding increased efficiency. Combining visualization and control means:

  • Faster machine design by providing an integrated development environment
  • Reduced machine construction costs by eliminating components and wiring
  • Reduced machine support cost and improved operation by centralizing remote access and administration

More than any other time, there are a range of trends in both control system architecture and manufacturing that are coming together to support an integrated HMI-PLC. For OEMs and control engineers alike, this means it is easier to build smaller, smarter machines faster—freeing both OEMs and engineers from having to use controllers and equipment simply because of a familiarity and a prohibitive cost to change.

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