Software Update: Touch-Based Software with Built-In CAD Helps Shops Simplify Metrology Tasks
Stepan Hrivna is software development director for Next Metrology Software (Prague), developer of the TouchDMIS metrology software for CMMs.
Manufacturing Engineering: Tell me about your company. How long has TouchDMIS software been in development?
Stepan Hrivna: Next Metrology Software has its development headquarters in Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and home to the oldest university in Central Europe established in 1348. The Czech Republic offers one of the most educated populations in Europe with an outstanding foundation for cost-focused, productive software development. Our TouchDMIS software was developed in less than two years by our team of metrology software application developers who have extensive experience in 3D metrology, emerging media and touch technologies with the mission of making coordinate metrology simple.
ME: How can touch technology help metrologists improve productivity?
Hrivna: Touch technology is revolutionizing human interaction to complex devices, providing faster, simpler, more intuitive user solutions. Touch technology will change CMM programming and operation by dramatically reducing training times, lowering learning curves and improving overall CMM usability, which is exactly the requirement of the majority of companies deploying CMM technology.
ME: What is wrong with current CMM software solutions?
Hrivna: CMM software must be all things to all people, meaning that a great deal of functionality must be present in the software while the average user applies only some 25–30% in daily tasks. However, the traditional user interface of CMM software is burdened by all this functionality with hundreds of icons. In addition, much functionality is buried and must be learned in two-week training periods and many months of arduous learning curves. The CMM industry has bred a family of CMM experts over the decades and they are very much in increasingly short supply. This is completely against the modern manufacturing philosophy of ‘Keep it Simple.’
ME: How much easier is it to learn TouchDMIS than other measurement software?
Hrivna: We have designed a ground-breaking One-Touch user interface without toolbars, hidden functionality or complex dialogue boxes. The UI [user interface] dynamically responds to user input, presenting available options and suggestions, allowing only metrology-legal functions to be performed. The simplicity of the TouchDMIS UI is a fantastic work of design innovation—our designers came from the mobile touch-computing industry with no prior metrology experience. TouchDMIS is available with an optional TouchCAD module, which allows touch extraction of nominal geometry with a single touch. We have benchmarked the software and can train users to start measuring and be productive with TouchDMIS in just four hours. Traditional training classes require a lot of intense training on where functionality is buried; Touch DMIS dynamically presents all selection choices directly on its user interface.
ME: Does simplicity offered by touch mean a lack of high-end functionality?
Hrivna: Not at all. The market requires a scalable solution that prevents a first-time user from being intimidated, and an experienced CMM professional from getting frustrated, and a product the user can develop with. The optional TouchCAD module adds CAD capability allowing nominal definition extraction with a single touch for CMM programming and on-machine inspection. It is true we have positioned TouchDMIS to satisfy only 80% of the market including the portable metrology applications. We leave the 20% to the specialist software vendors. Unfortunately, much of this specialist requirement today is embedded in standard software offerings, and hence the over-complexity of existing software.
ME: What does the built-in CAD functionality of TouchDMIS offer users?
Hrivna: With the TouchCAD module, CMM inspection and programming become vastly more productive. Importing a CAD model allows touch extraction of all embedded nominal geometry. Just select a feature button and wherever you touch the CAD model the closest feature of the feature type selected is extracted. This feature measurement can be immediately performed and the deviation reported.
ME: What other innovations does the software offer users?
Hrivna: Globally the smartphone is dominating the management of peoples’ lives. TouchDMIS is harnessing the smartphone user base technology familiarity and brings gestures and smart functions to the CMM application. It is disruptive technology to the existing supply base, but shifting the paradigm is always the mission of innovation and technology. Another innovation is the Blueprint Reporting function. Measured features are graphically represented and dimensions, and angles and lengths can be touch-extracted and represented in a similar manner to a part blueprint allowing a rapid analysis of measured parts. Our benchmarking has also shown TouchDMIS to be six to eight times more productive than traditional metrology software.
ME: How soon will TouchDMIS be available and what CMM builders plan to use it?
Hrivna: The software is now available, released in late October. We are an independent software company and TouchDMIS is available to be delivered with all new portable and CNC CMMs through cooperation and partnership with the hardware OEMs. In addition, we see a huge market upgrading existing installed CMMs with our ‘walk-up-and-measure’ functionality. We can turn an existing aging CMM into a state-of-the-art measuring center. Manual TouchDMIS upgrade with TouchCAD is under $7500, making user access to this new technology extremely affordable.
ME: What other developments are coming?
Hrivna: From a hardware perspective, we have introduced a wireless controller card allowing tablet technology to be used on traditional portal CMMs without cabling. We have also launched our CMM Touch Station with embedded 22" multi-touch monitor and electrically adjustable height control, providing an ergonomically design workstation for CMM operation whether sitting or standing while significantly reducing overall CMM footprint. This is a critical consideration in Asia.
We also plan to add point-cloud capability within 2014—laser scanning is growing dramatically and we will add cloud metrology into TouchDMIS. We are currently working towards release of TouchMeasure, our shop-floor interface for TouchDMIS that not only provides a launch platform for CMM inspection part programs, but also presents an intuitive set of typical CMM measuring routines offering zero-training CMM measurements. ME
Exact Software North America LLC (Newton, MA) announced Nov. 19 at FABTECH its new cloud-based Exact Online Manufacturing and Exact Online Wholesale Distribution solutions. The ERP solutions, available online only by monthly subscriptions, are aimed at easing management of small to medium-sized manufacturers and at wholesale distributors and warehouses.
Exact’s software offers users affordable, easy-to-use management of production, inventory control, logistics and CRM. The software replaces disparate systems and manual processes, giving users the ability to scale up or down as needs change, said Steve Leavitt, general manager of Exact’s US Cloud Solutions. Exact has partnered with Intuit to seamlessly integrate Exact Online with Intuit’s QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop, bridging the gap between manufacturing and distribution tasks and traditional accounting functions.
Geometric Americas Inc. (Scottsdale, AZ) announced on Oct. 29 the release of its CAMWorks 2014 version of the company’s intuitive solids-based CNC programming solution. With the addition of true G-code simulation, CAMWorks offers a fully integrated end-to-end solution from the initial part design and creation of CNC programs to full machine simulation, helping operators reduce data redundancy and save valuable shop-floor time. Along with support for SolidWorks 2014, the updated CAMWorks accelerates design-to-part time, improving productivity of CNC programmers with the addition of a number of enhancements including a Turn feature definition enhancement.
OMAX Corp. (Kent, WA) announced Oct. 9 the launch of a new version of its Intelli-Max Software Suite, an intuitive control software that automatically optimizes the toolpaths of the company’s advanced abrasive waterjet systems. Intelli-Max 20 incorporates several enhanced features that improve the speed and memory utilization of OMAX waterjets as well as new tools that allow for increased operator efficiency. The new software requires minimal operator training and makes it easy for users to create precision parts faster and at a lower cost.
Autodesk Inc. (San Rafael, CA) announced Nov. 4 that it has completed the acquisition of technology assets from Virtual Shape Research GmbH (VSR; Ronnenberg, Germany), a developer of class-A surface modeling and conceptual design software for the automotive industry. As part of the deal, 10 VSR employees will join Autodesk. The acquisition of VSR will help Autodesk expand its offerings for the automotive industry, including enhancement of the Alias product line. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Astrix Networks Inc. (Burlington, ON, Canada), operating under the trade name Memex Automation, announced Oct. 30 that it has completed its reverse take-over of GPS Investment Corp. (Calgary, AB, Canada). A provider of real-time shop-floor-to-top-floor technology solutions, Memex delivers Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) metrics in real-time with its flagship Merlin system, enabling manufacturers to enhance production and increase income and profits from operations. The common shares of Astrix will trade on the TSX Venture Exchange under the trading symbol OEE.
Software Update is edited by Patrick Waurzyniak: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in the December 2013 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.
Published Date : 12/1/2013