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HMI market moves to open and Web-based systems

01 March, 2006

Two recent reports on the global HMI (human-machine interface) market paint a rosy picture for the next few years. The first report, from IMS Research, predicts that HMI hardware sales will expand with a CAGR of 6.4%, to exceed $1.9bn by 2009. The second study, from Frost & Sullivan, includes software as well, and predicts a 5.8% CAGR from 2004 (when, it says, the global market was worth $1.85bn) until 2011, when it is forecast to hit $2.75bn.

IMS predicts a particularly meteoric rise for "open" HMI hardware, designed to fill the gap between traditional HMIs and industrial PCs. Although the market for such products is currently quite small, sales are forecast grow with a CAGR of 27.8% to become the third-largest product group by 2009, behind graphic and touchscreen operator panels.

"Open HMIs enable the user to configure the product to a particular application by accessing the operating system and scaling it to meet their needs," explains IMS senior analyst, Tim Dawson. They offer "increased functionality and flexibility over traditional HMIs, at a lower cost than industrial PCs.

F&S says the HMI market is being driven by factors including falling prices and the demands of regulatory compliance. It predicts a particularly rapid rise for Web-based HMIs, but cautions that these could raise security issues.

F&S suggests that HMI prices have been dropping because the market is maturing and because lower-quality, lower-priced imports are entering the market. "Thin profit margins have made it difficult for manufacturers to allocate funds for research and development," it warns, "and this will likely hamper new product development of HMI technology in the long term".

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