When you talk about syncing electrical and mechanical design it makes me think about cars, and their wiring harnesses. Of course, I don't do too much on my current cars. They are too complex and I don't have all the diagnostic tools. In the past, though, I had cars I could work on (actually take apart with basic tools) and I did. What I noted was that the wiring was always problematic. It was like an add-on, although it was essential. If only they had these tools back then... (and then was a long time ago).
In fact this article triggered me to finally join this forum... The topic of integrating the e- and m-silo (but also s-oftware and o-ptics) has been part of my life for a long time. Talking about carradio-sets with built in cassette-recorders and limited space it was quite natural that placement of e-components would be synced with the drive-belt of the recorder competing for the same space. At the time (70's) the Computervision CAD system was our system of choice because it featured one integrated data-base for electrical and mechanical data. Conceived by genius and ruined by later managerial decisions to grow through aquisition with incompatible cie's, as a consequence of which the grand idea died and CV as well... pity and shame! So hooray for SolidWorks to revive this ideal and make true collaboration and concurrent engineering possible accross classical silo-boundaries!
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.