Despite considerable differences between the machines, the operating personnel of processing and packaging machines in food production always have comparable work tasks. These include the assessment and monitoring of the current condition of the machine, the provision of sufficient quantities of packaging materials, the testing of produced qualities the elimination of occurring malfunctions. Dealing with malfunctions is particularly demanding, since in food processing and packaging the properties of the upstream process can have a massive impact on downstream processes and most malfunctions originate from the packaged goods, the packaging material and their interactions with environmental factors. If important information is not accessible sufficiently due to HMIs (Human-Machine-Interface, currently mainly touch displays), the tasks quickly degenerate into a dull processing of known sequences of actions. In addition, the risk of operating errors increases, e.g. when operators have to get used to switching between different machines on a complex production line repeatedly due to different HMI designs. Because of existing information deficiencies and inconsistent designs, occurring malfunctions are often only eliminated at symptom level before the actual cause triggers the problem again. Furthermore, the correct assessment of the machine condition and the selection of the optimal operating parameters is made more difficult by HMIs that are not suitable for the specific tasks of operators. This is not only frustrating for the operators. Moreover, it also leads to a constant loss of product quality, resources and production time during operation. Efficient machine operation, minimized downtime and sustainable use of deployed production resources can be promoted by linking process data and visualization options in a user- and task-oriented HMI concept. Along the chain of production, necessary information for the assessment of the machine condition and for fault diagnosis and elimination can thus be provided in an appropriate level of detail within the framework of a logically consistent HMI concept. The psychological knowledge, concepts and principles required for such a concept are rarely taken into account in current development, as this knowledge is not known in the food and packaging industry and is hardly mentioned in the general guidelines for HMI design such as DIN EN ISO 9241 at all. Thus, it cannot be taken into account by automation personnel and designers, who are mostly responsible for the HMI nowadays. However, it is of central importance for the usability of an HMI to link the data and the design on a functional level in a task-oriented manner.
Therefore, the current project initially pursues the goal of creating a basis for the subsequent development of principles for a uniform HMI concept for machines of the most varied types and manufacturers by means of a well-founded analysis of the status quo. The analysis serves the identification of requirements and problems of typical user groups in relation to the handling of different machine types. Accordingly, concrete target groups of machine types and application domains are defined and user-oriented requirements are formulated with an appropriate degree of abstraction. This is necessary in order to be able to transfer existing psychological findings of HMI design, which have been developed for domains such as aviation, medicine or the operation of nuclear power plants, to the machinery of food production in an appropriate manner. Afterwards the project will provide initial design recommendations for machine manufacturers. These principles will support companies in developing new, efficient HMI concepts with a high usability independently.