I do like the move that the industry is making toward local intelligence. It helps a lot in troubleshooting issues and keeps a lot of the spaghetti wiring to a minimum. In addition, it allows status feedback to the operators so that they can tell immediately what the problem is rather than having the maintenance engineer hook up a bunch of diagnostic equipment.
Not only is localized intelligence making life easier for problem solving and debugging, but the costs are becoming lower and lower which only helps drive the localized solution. Becoming more affordable will allow more solutions, and better designs, to occur with a minimal amount of fuss by engineers.
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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.