Real-time video can maximize an operator’s on-the-job performance. According to ARC Advisory Group, Dedham, Mass., adding video to human-machine interface (HMI) stations in automation and process control enhances safety, security and regulatory compliance as well as improve a company’s ergonometrics, or work measurement studies.

In ARC’s brief, “Real-Time Video Provides a Fourth Dimension for Intelligent Visualization and Control,” author Craig Resnick notes that most HMI solutions only provide the operator with a partial view of what is happening across the entire process.

“When real-time live video and other external applications are not well-integrated with the display, the operator is confronted with many different types of visualization tools and unsynchronized data,” Resnick says. “This breeds confusion.”

For operators to make the correct decisions quickly, they require synchronized and appropriately contextualized information. Contextualization is the process of assigning meaning to, or an interpretation of, the environment. “This is only possible when the applications have been well integrated into the HMI, enabling all information - including live video, documentation and operator instructions, and maintenance and production data - to be presented on any screen at any time,” Resnick says.

Because it is well accepted that seeing is believing, ARC says that video is the key to maximizing operator performance. Resnick notes that “integrated, recorded video also can improve operator training and provide cause-and-effect insight for process improvements.” However, he warns that adding video to HMIs is not a simple matter. Specialized expertise is needed, he says, requiring a thorough understanding of how industrial plants operate, specific safety and security requirements, and regulatory compliance.