kjd's comment makes me wonder how much intelligence is needed in each local node of a control network, vs the central controller, for different types of control networks? In machine vision networks this is highly variable, depending on a host of different factors. So smart cameras, the equivalent of a smart controller here, aren't always the best solution, for example.
Industrial environmental control and HVAC systems have long operated as distributed networked controller platforms tied together to a central energy management system.
Each networked ‘smart’ controller is responsible for driving a number of analog and digital actuators, and reading inputs from a number of different sensor types. Each networked ‘smart’ controller can also run advanced control routines for its local domain, while feeding shared info back into the network.
In that arena, it would seem to be an interesting challenge (both cost and efficiency –wise) to design your control network with each actuator being somewhat smart itself, but seemingly not contributing to the corporate intelligence.
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