My company uses what we call intelligent tool cabinets in several assembly areas. They are accessed via the employee's ID card. The system logs time, date, user, tool(s) removed and logs the same information when they are returned. They are quite expensive, so they are not something a homeowner could afford for their garage or work area.
The larger tools have a RFID chip built into them. The smaller tools like sockets have tip switches in the slots where they go in the drawers. These are matched up by the processor to the tool numbers. Reports show who took or replaced each tool and on what day and time. If a tool is missing, the screen shows who checked it out and when. A handheld wand can be used to track it down if it is left somewhere. Our purpose for them, besides keeping tool inventory, is to ensure that no tools are left inside an assembly when it is shipped from our facility.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.