Machine Design

Automation users get touchy

Good news for human-machine interface makers: The market is growing thanks in large part to wider use of touchscreens. According to IMS Research, that segment is expected to grow, on average, more than 15% annually to 2006, accounting for more than half of all HMI revenue.

Touchscreens are on the rise because their costs are dropping while they simultaneously have grown more powerful. "New low-cost models are being effectively targeted at older, traditionally cheaper product groups such as text operator panels," says report author, John Devlin. "Compared to standard graphic terminals with a keypad, these touchscreen products have the advantage of offering the same size screen in a smaller body.

Says Devlin, the downturn in automation makes it even more important for suppliers of that equipment to stand out from the crowd. Another sign of the trend: A recent European user survey found 71.6% of automation customers plan on using touchscreen panels by 2005.

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