I have owned 16 Ford trucks since 1996, the last one, a 2009 F350 twin turbo diesel, cost $54,950.00. One day it dies on the freeway. After an hour it restarted, but it didn’t run right. The dealer eventually found a bad actuator on one of the turbos and replaced it. It promptly broke off the turbo gate shaft on the stuck gate.
Here’s the part designed by monkeys. They have to remove the cab from the truck to replace the turbo. But wait, there is no way to run the engine with the cab removed, so they had to replace the cab to test the new turbo. The new turbo leaked oil at a disturbing rate, so they had to remove the cab again to reseat the turbo. Because of the poor design, it took 26 days to repair a minor problem.
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 discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.