Pneumatic machines—and their low maintenance costs, simple designs, and ease of use—are expected to overtake electric machines as the automation equipment of choice in years to come, according to a Frost & Sullivan research report. The integration of electronics and sensors with pneumatic motion control is driving the pneumatic market. But inaccuracy, price declines, and manufacturing facility relocation from Europe to emerging countries are considered to be limiting factors. Chances are, the report adds, manufacturers will see affordable pneumatic and electronic hybridized systems with better position control as well as information feedback.
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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.