Discover more about the topics and technologies to be discussed at this year's conference, via a series of exclusive interviews with a selection of our expert speakers

Speaker interview: Michael Jendis, Preh

Michael Jendis, executive director for commercial vehicles at Preh, walks us through the issues with the human-machine interface in today’s multi-functional tractors, and discusses how Preh can create a better work space for operators.

What are the issues with current user interface design and how should it be improved?
Due to an intensified usage of equipment, today’s tractor human-machine interfaces (HMI) are at their limits. We can’t keep adding more and more switches, wheels and rockers to it and cover modern ergonomics by just adding capacitive touch displays. What we need are configurable concepts to control a multitude of functions. Depending on the actual work pattern, you only need a fraction of the possibilities the latest tractors have to offer, at any given time.

To support ergonomic and efficient work spaces we therefore need to make the key controls adaptable or multi-usable. Furthermore, the users are becoming more and more differentiated in their expectations: some might want to drive the tractor with their smartphone app, while others may desire dedicated, familiar switches for everything they need.

Another issue is the increasing night work done during a harvest season and the limited night design (e.g. illumination of function icons) of today’s consoles. Just compare this to the car taking the worker home that same night and you’ll see there’s still work to be done when it comes to night design in tractor HMI.

What solutions does Preh propose for this?
We offer technologies to support the multi-use of components, which can then control completely different functions. Widely known is the central knob concept starting with BMW’s iDrive, which you can find in cars today as a key input device for most system functions.

Using the flexibility of a touch display while also having active haptic feedback and 3D elements such as knobs will ensure the increased acceptance of such display-oriented HMIs. Adding functions like force sensitivity makes touch displays also suitable for safety-relevant functions. New elements like the touch control buttons coming into the truck segment with the latest Mercedes-Benz Actros are integrating several switches into just one control while increasing functionality. All these elements have been completely redesigned to fulfill the increased haptic, lifespan and robustness requirements of a truck or tractor cabin.

What were the highlights of Preh’s 2017 prototype console and why should they be implemented?
Most certainly, one of the highlights was the purity of design, especially the drive lever, which looks more like a modern sculpture than a control lever; but if you put your hand around it, your finger will find the controls naturally. We have implemented maximum functionality with minimum control elements.

Preh, as an innovation-driven supplier, came up with a radical new proposal for a tractor HMI. We reduced the number of control elements down to a small number of main components: a multi-functional input device, a functional bookmark button bar, a touch display – with HMI on-screen, force sensing and haptic feedback – as well as a drive lever integrating a touch control button. In addition, four classic rocker switches were added to finalize the reduced HMI.

Michael Jendis will give a presentation titled Off-highway vehicle HMI – advanced technology and the next level at the Industrial Vehicle Cab Design & Technology Conference. Click here to book your delegate pass, which gives you access to all four conferences.

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