Luis Fernando Espinal Ceballos of Colombia wanted to give his cousin's son the slot track racing set he loved as a child. But the toy seemed unbearably old-fashioned. So Luis jazzed it up with a new electronic control system. He dumped the old battery box and replaced it with a used PC power supply and rewired the entire system for tighter control. He also added a lap counter to the circuit and upgraded the cars from old Lotus models to new Porsche and BMW models.
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.