Interfaces in Production Technology
Rainer Daude, Hendrik Hoymann, Manfred Weck
Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL),
RWTH Aachen University of Technology
Machine tools play a primary role in production technology, paying a significant contribution to industrial economics. Due to the aggravated market conditions and customer needs, manufacturing companies as well as their machines are required to be highly flexible. Unfortunately, more flexible machines are often more complex and thus complicated to use.
Nowadays, classical input/output (I/O) elements such as monitors, single buttons or rotary switches are fixed to the machine so that generally a simultaneous observation of the manufacturing process and the input unit is not possible. Additionally, operating procedures are often characterised by rigid, hierarchically structured dialogues that diminish the worker's productivity.
New HMI developments in manufacturing therefore have to solve two problems: mobility -- supported by suitable mobile I/O media -- and task orientation. Mobile operator units offer close and simultaneous observation of the manufacturing process and the control pendant. Task oriented HMI's will result in a clear, flat menu structure with flexible dialogues allowing direct access to functions that have to be released in the actual working situation.
Speech based operating elements are a good solution for improved I/O media. Due to size and weight limitations, mobile systems must not be equipped with many buttons. Speech, however, offers high functionality with only few I/O elements as well as a very intuitive way of communication. Thus, mobility can be easily supported by speech, using wireless head-sets or microphones.