How to Design Better-Performing and More Reliable Machines?

As our machine controls grow more sophisticated and powerful, we think that we can and should provide additional data acquisition and monitoring capabilities beyond routine speed and rotational condition monitoring. We want to help willing customers obtain useful, real-time operating data, but we also want to capture some key operating variables that will help us design better-performing and more reliable machines. We've used standalone DAQ systems and now are considering whether the data acquisition capabilities of PACs and newer PLCs might be a better path. We'd like to hear from others who have experience with both.