William Grill had a periodic problem with backed-up water in his laundry room. The laundry tub has a shallow drain that is shared with the kitchen plumbing. The drain would regularly get clogged with refuse from kitchen disposal debris or laundry “goop.” When the drain clogged, water backed up onto the floor, creating a “rather unpleasant laundry room crises.”
Grill considered a water monitor, but he wanted a bit more warning so he could avert flooding. He wanted to know when the drain was getting clogged before “water was all over the place.”
He created a sensor that is set for two points — 1 and 5 inches of water in the laundry tub. The sensor sends an alarm before the water crests the tub and splatters all over the floor — all for less than $12 in components.
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.