February 2019

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Human-Machine Interfaces (HMIs)

The latest HMI panels use HDMI technology to bring time & money savings.

Jakub Gorski
Jakub Górski
Director of Product Management
Global Control 5 Sp. z. o.o.

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In Building Automation, Human-Machine Interfaces (HMIs) are graphical interfaces that allow interactions between building users and the control cabinet. HMIs are used to control HVAC and electric equipment. Traditionally, a DDC controller and its modules are rarely connected to any HMIs due to its costs and lack of flexibility. Used HMI often comes from the industrial sector and is usually equipped with a Modbus interface, but the biggest disadvantage with industrial HMI is that any visualisation requires additional engineering works in a separate environment. It pushes engineers to double their work. Not only do they need to set up visualisation in BMS but also on HMI in a different IT environment. This makes any industrial HMI an engineering nightmare.

The combo of two, a LCD panel and a Niagara 4 controller, allows for better visual representation of a control system and provides real-time data acquisition. As the N4 framework develops and buildings become more complex, better technology is needed to fully take advantage of sophisticated visualisation and more complex control strategy.

iSMA-B-MAC36NL is capable of storing data locally, unlike the traditional HMI+DDC systems that need to transmit data to servers. It also has much higher computing power and thus is able to manage complex tasks more easily. The entire HVAC process can be controlled from one central point placed in the control cabinet. Instead of handling a control panel with an array of confusing switches and buttons, users can easily utilize an HMI that has the entire control system visually mapped out. This gives “LCD panel+iSMA-B-MAC36NL” higher versatility and needed flexibility.


In Global Control 5, the LCD panel is equipped with an HDMI interface which gives better utilization than any HMI in the building industry. At the beginning of the automation industry, most HMI was just a panel PC with its own graphics builder. The points were read with a communication protocol like Modbus. With the development of the technology and the growth of controllers equipped with a web server, more and more people use the web browser in the Panel PC and take information from the controller by a web-server. It made less engineering work and gave more flexibility. GC5 went further and simplified, even more, the visualisation process.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Unlike traditional industrial HMIs (which are usually configured for one highly specialized task) an LCD panel with HDMI does not require any engineering work! The panel connected to a controller equipped with HDMI interphase visualizes any graphics configured on the chosen controller. iSMA-B-MAC36NL powered by Niagara 4 has HDMI and shows the strength of Niagara cutting-edge graphics on the iSMA 10’ HMI LCD panel. It looks fabulous. The deep colour display on the LCD panel provides the wow effect for any BMS users. Engineers love it as it saves their time – no additional work for configuration, e.g. one AHU graphic done for the BMS is also used on the panel. No extra work for configuring HMI!

The combo (LCD panel over HDMI connected to iSMA-B-MAC36NL) provides an extremely user-friendly interface with not only spectacular Niagara N4 graphics but also alarm management, trends, logs and many more. Moreover, it comes at a fraction of the price of standard industrial HMI and does not require additional engineering work. That is why everyone is choosing them.

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