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Embracing Biomimicry when Developing HMI/SCADA Systems

Biomimicry, or taking ideas from nature could pave the way to implementing new designs for waterproofing materials, using solar energy, or harnessing wind energy. Such designs also have a place in developing Industrial Control Systems, which in many ways do mimic the interconnecting systems of a living organism.

For example, in the TED talk posted below, Janine Benyus points out the hierarchy of priorities in the natural world, and invites designers and engineers to explore how animals and plants meet the needs of building, processing raw materials, optimizing space, and heating and cooling structures.  When met with significant design challenges, she suggests making use of a solution that nature has already provided, such as mimicking the shapes of birds to reduce turbulence in trains, or using specific patterns to repel bacteria in hospitals.

Use of biomimicry could prove valuable in innovation in many industries, such as packaging or energy generation, but we can also learn how to arrange our systems through observing nature’s priorities. For example, many natural structures rely on one material that is capable of serving multiple purposes, and how those systems can gain the most strength from the smallest amount of material. These principles can also be applied to system design. Even by studying swarm technology we can begin to understand the potential of IoT and how data can be shared by multiple interconnected individual parts.

For instance, when developing a SCADA/HMI system, take hints from natural processes, and answer challenging questions by considering how the natural world would develop solutions.

  • How can I include the most functionality in the fewest number of screens and buttons?
  • How can I arrange my data in a way that requires the least amount of navigation away from the data in order to understand it?
  • How can I make applications scalable up and down without losing the integrity of the design?

See the Ted Talk here!

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