We recently purchased a new GE refrigerator with through-the-door ice service. The day after we installed the refrigerator, we tested the ice dispenser and found that most of the ice was falling inside the freezer, rather than falling into the chute through the door.
It wasn’t readily apparent what was happening, so my young and creative son suggested that we put a camera (and a flashlight for illumination) in the freezer and record a short video so we could see what was happening. The video revealed that the opening in the bottom of the ice bucket did not line up with the door chute. We called GE, and they sent a service technician to our home to look at the refrigerator. The technician was amused by our home video, and complimented my son on his diagnostic technique. GE shipped the correct ice bucket to us, and the problem was solved. However, GE’s wrong-ice-bucket mistake wasted hours of my time, spent waiting for the service technician to show up.
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.