New Guidelines for Optimizing HMI Usability and Performance Published by ISA

  • August 22, 2019
  • Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

Human-machine interfaces (HMIs), the primary means by which users interact with industrial processes, provide the potential and opportunity to greatly enhance operations - or to confuse users and degrade operations.

The International Society of Automation's first American National Standard on HMI, ANSI/ISA-101.01-2015, Human Machine Interfaces for Process Automation Systems, covers the philosophy, design, implementation, operation, and maintenance of HMIs for process automation systems. It defines the terminology and models to develop an HMI and the work processes recommended to effectively maintain an HMI throughout its full lifecycle

ISA has now published a supporting technical report, ISA-TR101.02-2019, HMI Usability and Performance, that addresses the specification, design, implementation details, and management of an HMI focused on usability and performance. It explains how the ANSI/ISA-101.01 standard applies in determining an optimal solution to achieve process goals using examples that have been shown to be effective.

"The new technical report is especially valuable for focusing on the needs of operators to maintain situational awareness through the use of an HMI optimized for performance and usability," points out Ruth Schiedermayer of Dilling Group, Inc., who served as co-chair of the ISA101 working group that developed the document.

HMI enhancements for improved usability and performance are often associated with additional specifications, custom design, implementation, and management considerations, in addition to vendor-provided functionality and features. Accordingly, notes David Board of Rockwell Automation, who served as co-chair of the working group, "The technical report provides details on how to implement the ANSI/ISA-101.01 standard with examples of optimized displays and objects that can be used in them --and the rationale behind using them."

The ANSI/ISA-101.01 standard and the new ISA-TR101.02 technical report may be viewed or obtained at  

For more information on the ISA101 standards development committee, contact Charley Robinson, ISA Standards, at or +1-919-990-9200.

About ISA

The International Society of Automation ( is a nonprofit professional association that sets the standard for those who apply engineering and technology to improve the management, safety, and cybersecurity of modern automation and control systems used across industry and critical infrastructure. Founded in 1945, ISA develops widely used global standards; certifies industry professionals; provides education and training; publishes books and technical articles; hosts conferences and exhibits; and provides networking and career development programs for its 40,000 members and 400,000 customers around the world.

ISA owns, a leading online publisher of automation-related content, and is the founding sponsor of The Automation Federation (, an association of non-profit organizations serving as "The Voice of Automation." Through a wholly owned subsidiary, ISA bridges the gap between standards and their implementation with the ISA Security Compliance Institute ( and the ISA Wireless Compliance Institute (