Not exactly a mystery - but…our equipment engineers were struggling with a way to signal visually and prominently to an operator whether or not methanol was flowing through a gas/liquid blend flow panel. They were cost constricted. Everyone was standing around and pondering the constraint. I was not really a part of the discussion but happened by and stopped as the panel was slated for one of my AR&D group’s customers. I overheard the challenge and suggested why not use one of those (my words) “old-time whirligig sight-glass spinning whizbangs that we all remember from our youth in old gasoline pumps.” That’s technical jargon. I further added, “It can’t be much different for compatibility for methanol then it was for gasoline, seals maybe? Check it out.” And I walked away.
Weeks later, there was the new panel, complete with the sight glass “whirligig.” One of the senior techs took credit for it. I said nothing other than to “congratulate” him openly in front of that original equipment engineering and tech group for his brilliant contribution. Ouch, sometimes it’s just better to let them stew.
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.