Interesting development here, Beth. You take a very complex system and you make it easier for the user. Easier to use, easier to share. This seems to be a significant trend -- to bury the complexity in the system and make it easy for the user. That's happening to a great degree in automation and control systems.
Absolutely Rob. As people (even engineers) get used to more streamlined user interfaces in the technology they use so ubiquitously in their private lives, they are now expecting much of that simplicity to carry over to their professional tools--even those that were traditionally more complex in the past. By doing so, it definitely makes it easier to collaborate and share design data.
I think that one of the keys to what you're saying, Beth, is that the technology we use at work is beginning to resemble the technology we use at home. We're adopting complex technology in home products. In a sense, that's probably training us for using complex systems at work. Experience with video games may be particularly pertinent for new engineers.
I spent some time and money on Simulink to try and model a complex system and found the software very difficult to use. I paid for three days of consulting and training and found using it a week later painful. Other projects keep me away from the software for several more weeks and it was even more difficult to move forward with adding more detail so the project was put on hold until I had a block of time to work with it. After a year I tried to use the software and quickly became frustrated and paid for more consulting. Since I was not next to the consulting engineer the consulting turned out a waste of effort.
Ease of use it the single most important feature of software if you want to get new customers. Ease of use will allow smaller companies to do more advance simulations because you can quickly setup and run a model.
Thanks for your perspective, Ed. I agree that as powerful a tool as it is, putting Simulink to use is not as straightforward as you'd think given the relative simplicity of the paradigm of lines and block diagrams to model a system--especially when those systems become more complex and interconnected. Hopefully these new advances address some of those limitations and make it more straightforward to dive into modeling the design. Seems like you might want to take the upgrade for a test drive. If you do, let's us know what you think.
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.