By Melissa Donovan
Part 2 of 2
Most automated finishing devices, whether routers or cutters or even laser power machinery, is equipped with proprietary software. To fully deliver on the process of automation, it is integral that the hardware is backed by intelligent software solutions.
The first article in this series examined the importance of intelligent software, looking at the various features available as well as discussing ease of use. Here we asked finishing hardware vendors interviewed in part one to share information on their proprietary software products.
The Colex Sharpcut Flatbed Cutter is driven by Colex Cut Center 8. Top features include the ability to import over 40 file formats, a materials library, overcut compensation, and automatic bridging. It also utilizes barcodes and quick response codes to automate the processing of jobs. Colex Cut Center 8 is designed on an open platform so it can be dropped into any workflow without disruption.
Gerber Technology’s MCT cutter is promoted as a device that offers the ability to produce many types of materials for existing customers and also attract new customers. TigerVision software complements this, enabling the versatility of the product. It imports simple files, edits customized cutting parameters, offers print-to-cut registration, and features table mapping. TigerVision also compensates for material distortion and surface imperfections to ensure the best cut possible.
Summa America’s F Series of flatbed cutters are powered by Summa GoProduce. The software platform offers fast job recognition through barcode functionality and camera recognition, a material database, and registration of square or round marks for more flexibility. In Fall 2020, Summa plans to announce GoSign software, which is designed for its roll-to-roll cutters SummaCut and the S Class 2 series.
Zund America, Inc. offers Zünd Cut Center (ZCC), an intelligent user interface and digital workflow suite for its Zünd cutting systems. Although proprietary, the platform is open, which allows Zünd cutters to integrate easily into any production workflow. ZCC offers the operator many benefits. An automated job setup function and materials library with factory tested and user-definable cutting/finishing profiles, registration processes that use integrated and over cutter cameras to read register marks, tool usage and production monitoring, production data capture for productivity studies, and export to MIS/ERP systems.
We live in an age of software in the cloud, where subscription-based services are paramount and updates occur automatically unless programmed otherwise by the user. Major and minor updates are common for intelligent software solutions powering finishing devices.
Keith Verkem, senior product manager, Colex, notes that the update process for Colex Cut Center 8 is easy. Operators can schedule the update so it won’t interfere with shop floor production or manufacturing.
Gerber updates its TigerVision software periodically to provide customers with additional features they have requested and/or to support new hardware. “We communicate to our customers the availability of a new software version or a release. In most cases, we can provide our customers with a software upgrade path that can be accomplished remotely to minimize any customer downtime,” explains Mark Bibo, global director of field marketing, Gerber.
Summa designed its cutting software keeping in mind the user. For those finishing more specific applications or with specific workflow needs, a Pro Pack version is available at a one-time cost that provides more advanced features. “This way, users will not drown in a multitude of functionalities they aren’t using,” explains Gary Buck, VP, sales and marketing, Summa America. The software is updated free of charge fairly frequently to maintain performance. About once a year a bigger update is released with more drastic changes.
At Zünd, it’s created ZCC to be owned in the same way as the hardware. It is included in the purchase price of the system and requires no ongoing software maintenance contract or licensing. ZCC is currently on version 3, so only two paid upgrades have occurred since its introduction in 2010.
“Version upgrades are never mandatory unless dictated by a machine upgrade or the customer wishes to take advantage of additional workflow features. Minor releases are always free of charge,” notes Chris Nicholson, customer experience director, Zund America, Inc.
Know Your Software
Intelligent software solutions are designed to play a large role in automation, as the many features and tools are composed with efficiency and cost savings in mind. Major finishing hardware manufacturers have devoted time and energy into creating software systems that are equal in productivity and user friendliness to their hardware devices. IPM
Read part one of this two-part series, The Software Difference.
Nov2020, Industrial Print Magazine