In the 1960’s I worked on a missile program. We had an electronic module that was mounted on an aluminum 90 degree bracket. The bracket had a hole in the upright portion for the electrical connector. There were four holes in the bottom of the bracket for mounting. The idea was that the potting compound encapsulating the module would stick to the bracket and hold it in place. Upon testing it was found that the module would come loose from the bracket. There was some discussion on how to fix the problem most easily. Someone suggested a piece of aluminum over the module with holes matching the mounting holes in the bracket. I said why not turn it over. Therefore, the bracket held the module in place in the missile. It worked fine. Not a real big problem, but a nice easy answer. The only change needed was to use longer mounting screws.
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.