Mobile technology affecting growth of HMI screens in building automation

The use of human interface (HMI) screens in the building automation equipment market is forecast to decline over the coming years.




Decling ROI for HMI Screens, Courtesy: IHS TechnologiesWith a recent trend to more mobile technology, the use of human interface (HMI) screens in the building automation equipment market is forecast to decline over the coming years, according to a recent report from IHS.

IHS has forecast the world market for human interface (HMI) screens to decease by a CAGR of -2.7% to $179.4 million in 2018.

As the responsibilities expand for facility managers, there is an increased demand for multitasking. One of these is maintaining the building automation (BA) system. In the past, this included a main computer or individual location for set points and readings where diagnostics could be performed. In these situations, HMI screens became a valuable resource as they allowed the facility manager to easily navigate different parts of a BA system; however, today the industry is beginning to evolve beyond HMI screens.

In order to remain efficient, facility managers are becoming more mobile and have begun to use tablets and other portable devices to maintain and monitor the BA system through applications or internet browser portals. This is going to have an effect on HMI screens as they become redundant and unnecessary in some installations.

However, before there is a paradigm shift in the industry, there are still some issues that need to be addressed for both manufacturers and end-users.

For example, are facility managers going to be able to install applications on their personal smartphones and tablets or are end-users going to have to provide their facility manager with new tablets? While this may seem like an innocuous question, many companies have levels of bureaucracy which can make this process very difficult. This may force managers to look more for companies who can offer portals rather than applications as portals allow users to log in and out of the system through a browser so no additional software needs to be purchased or installed.

Manufacturers will need to be able to offer robust applications and portals which provide value for the end-user. Additionally, many manufacturers have been searching for new revenue streams, so they have looked to charge a small fee for their applications. However, it is becoming clear that most end-users are not willing to pay for applications and expect to receive it as a free value added service.

Overall, BA manufactures may not be able to charge a fee for application use; however, IHS believes these apps will play a vital role not only by increasing the efficiency of facility managers and adding value to a system, but will also provide an opportunity to differentiate for the competition.

Omar Talpur leads IHS Technology’s Building Technologies research. He has worked on a number of studies covering a wide range of industries at IHS. This article originally appeared on Edited by Brittany Merchut, Project Manager, CFE Media, bmerchut(at)

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