By John Wiley
Recently I needed to weld my mower deck on my King Kutter five-foot brush mower. To do this, the gear drive then blades and stump jumper needed to be removed. Had this been assembled with anti-seize compound this would not have required a torch to remove it. So I ordered a new stump jumper and new blade bolts. I installed the new stump jumper and one blade. After attempting to assemble this for a few minutes, I realized the new part was welded incorrectly so the hole in the top part of the assembly was not in line with the lower part of the assembly.
One carefully worded email later I had a new one and return shipping label on the way. I got to put off mowing the 10 acres another week. I received the new part and learning from my mistakes I checked the assembly before installing it. Yup, this one was welded by the same monkey that welded the first one. I really don’t like being a company’s QA or process engineer. But hey, monkeys your doing it wrong!
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.