A little over a year ago we purchased a new Sears refrigerator as our old one was 35 years old and showing its age. Nice design overall, good reviews. Not long ago we had occasion to move it and so needed to remove the lower trim panel to expose the wheel support. When I pulled on the trim panel to take it off, it just pulled the tab mounting screw right out of the boss and left the expanding tab in the hole on the refrigerator.
I thought maybe something was wrong in how the panel had been installed, or how the panel was assembled. But looking at the design it was quite obvious that it had been made by monkeys. The plastic ribbed tab was a snug fit in the mating hole, and the only attachment of the tab to the trim panel was one screw, cantilevered off the primary pull, and in the direction of the pullout force. No extra boss to take the load, no catches, nothing. The screw has to take the entire load of trying to pull the tab out of the mating hole and all that will happen is to break the screw boss. Oh, they made sure it wouldn’t rotate, but that didn’t do much good for removing it.
I added a screw, down from the top, that takes the removal force in shear and in line with the force.
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.