Aerial view terminal

High Performance Graphics – The Overlooked Component of a Safe and Efficient Industrial Operation


High-performance graphics are a critical element in operating your facility safely and efficiently while meeting quality specifications. Hargrove Controls + Automation uses a storyboarding process to successfully implement high-performance graphics on a variety of HMI platforms so that our clients can enjoy the benefits of a well-designed, user-friendly interface that enables operators to quickly make informed process decisions. Regardless of your control hardware lifecycle status, an HMI upgrade to high performance graphics can address the most critical component of your control system, the human operator, while making future system upgrades more manageable.

What are high-performance graphics?

The main goal of high-performance graphics is to provide operators with meaningful data in an efficient and impactful way. The standards are defined by ISA 101, which was updated in 2015 to reflect these new best practices for Human Machine Interfaces (HMIs). Here are some examples of how high-performance graphics differ from existing graphics that may exist in your facility.

  • Colors are muted to grayscale when the process is operating normally. Colors are only used when things are out of the normal range and require attention.
  • The screens are structured into a hierarchy. The highest screen level is ideally a single graphic that displays everything the operator needs to know about the overall health of the system. The remaining tiers break down that system into subsystems, individual pieces of equipment, and then finally diagnostic data for troubleshooting.
  • Indicator bars or other elements are added to provide context, showing how current values compare with the normal range.
  • Trend lines embedded into the graphics allow the operator to see how the process has been fluctuating over time.

Why you should adopt high-performance graphics

When you look at the number of documented safety incidents by the US CSB (CSB), the UK HSE (HSE), and other entities across Europe and Asia (MAHB), a high percentage list operator error, operator awareness, and HMI graphics as a contributing factor. Processes have intensified, and often, operators are expected to run more equipment than they did in the past. More is being asked of operators, and that can lead to costly and dangerous mistakes. However, high-performance graphics can help operators make better decisions by better presenting relevant and timely information.  Someone should be able to look at a graphic and within a split second spot the areas of concern.

High-performance graphic migration projects provide real value. Similar to alarm management projects, implementing high-performance graphics is about operating safe facilities with fewer process and environmental incidents.

By helping operators make better decisions and react more quickly to abnormal situations, we can greatly reduce safety risks as well as quality issues. This is not just about making a screen look prettier; it is about helping your facility make smarter, better, faster decisions.

How Hargrove upgrades: Storyboarding

At Hargrove, we work through a storyboarding process to complete high-performance graphics projects.

Standards: First, we gather any relevant standards the client may have. If the client does not have standards, or the standards are incomplete, we can provide Hargrove standards. Based on our experience with HMI graphic projects on numerous platforms in multiple industries and informed by the latest published research, Hargrove has developed standards and best practices for modern high-performance graphics.

Storyboarding: Next, we get the stakeholders together and go through the storyboarding process. We meet to sketch out what needs to be shown on each of the different graphic levels. Like how a film director walks through each shot, we walk through each screen and decide together what information should be shown. We will rough-sketch the design for later graphic building reference. These decisions will be based on a combination of client and vendor standards, ISA guidance, and production needs.

Graphic Creation: We use the rough sketches to create a first pass of the HMI graphics such as the representations of the vessels, pipes, pumps, etc. Once a static design is created, we review the progress with the stakeholders to make sure they agree with the look and feel of the design.

Animation and Linking: Next, we make the designs functional. We tie in all the process data and field devices, and we add navigation links between the graphics. We make sure that the graphics can move up and down the hierarchy and follow the process flow. This is where upfront storyboarding is extremely helpful. By knowing where we want to end up, we can make sure that all the links are included and the correct information is displayed.

Final Reviews: At the factory acceptance test, the customer completes a final review and sign-off on the development. Any additional feedback gathered during start-up is used to make final adjustments if necessary.

By front-loading communication with the client, we avoid rework and indecision, which saves time and effort on the project.

When should you upgrade?

Most customers find it easiest to upgrade to high-performance graphics during a control system migration, but upgrades can take place at any point in time. If your graphics are dated or aren’t delivering value – or worse, causing operational errors – you may want to upgrade the HMI alone. Remember that upgrades can be performed as a gradual process. You can start with just a single system or plant area. HMI upgrades can often be performed without taking process downtime and even run in parallel with the old system during the cutover period. This can lower burdens on both your budget and your production schedules.

If you are looking to upgrade your HMIs to high-performance graphics, contact us.

Back to News
Share Next Article Blue arrow 08.14.2021
How Hargrove is Collaborating Across Disciplines to Leverage Industry 4.0 for Our Clients