TJ, I agree with you that these capabilities have been around for awhile, and actually go way back further than the introduction of PACs. Making it easy to collect information is one step, and also for users to gain confidence that the machine controller has both the processing power and flexibility to do multiple tasks without creating problems with machine control.
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.