What Is That Blinking?

blinking-red-light-by-functoruserWe all know what a blinking red light means, right? Ironically, on many HMI displays red means run, not stop. On others it means the operator needs to do something immediately. And on yet another system it might mean an emergency stop.

There are so many things on HMI screens that it’s really hard to tell exactly what that a given alarm means. Since HMI screens are typically completely customizable, they might vary between machines, between sections of a plant, or even just from operator to operator. We can admire an HIM screen with realistic animations for actions, but nothing is better than a clear HMI that tells you exactly what’s going on in an unmistakable way.

Still, you get used to the interfaces you use every day and you know just what your particular blinking lights mean. When you normally get the same alerts over and over again, day in and day out, something different can really throw you for a loop.

To judge if you need to take immediate action or not when something is blinking that has never blinked before, think about what the engineer who designed your HMI might have thought would be a good way of alerting you of something and how that engineer might have decided to convey that information to you. For an engineer who has elaborate displays for common daily activities, a really simplistic alert might mean something serious that doesn’t happen often. If it was a common occurrence, the engineer would probably have spent time designing something fun to go along with the alert.

If your interface is generally simple and straightforward, an emergency might prompt something the designer to do something dramatic to get your attention.

If you’re seeing a new alert with Indramat or Rexroth motion control, give us a call and we’ll walk through the process with you to figure out just what exactly the blinking light means and if you need to shut down or if you can keep going.

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