By Ken Herrick
I bought a Ford Ranger extended-cab pickup, new, in about 1990. It had a horrible ride, threw out my back within a week of commuting. It turned out the frame was too limber, partly because there was no firm connection between the cab and the bed. Every bump vibrationally became two or three of them, hitting me right up my backside. My fix: short steel cables with swaged eyes and turnbuckles, mounted each side between two (existing) frame holes. That stiffened the frame marvelously, right where it needed it, and it became an absolute joy to ride. Wish I still had it.
Prior to doing it myself, I had complained to the dealer. I was kept waiting, having to stand at the counter no less, for precisely one hour while they “checked” it, then told me there was nothing wrong with it. A message, I thought…
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.