@Tony H - We have learned in school to first write the code, then draw the flowchart. Given the fact that design can be an iterative process, it does seem a waste of time to do the documentation first. But in the area that we are talking about, where two different teams have to collaborate across an interface, doing the documentation is a must so that both sides agree before coding the design.
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.