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42 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JANUARY 2018 Another time-waster is the way in which CAM and CAD professionals typically com- municate with each other about design issues. Today's methods are to my mind quite medi- eval and utterly confusing, including screen shots pasted in Word or Excel document with comments batting to and fro across the ether. The problem with screen shots is that they offer no context—you cannot zoom or see other lay- ers—and the whole workflow lacks traceabil- ity: What was approved when and by whom? And precious time drains away while waiting for approval. Enter our new Communic8tor, announced at the recent pro- ductronica.This can be likened to Adobe Acrobat, but where Acrobat is excellent for annotat- ing, proposing changes and giv- ing approval on PDF documents, Communic8tor is designed spe- cifically to handle the resolutions, precision and complexity of PCBs, making it possible to annotate issues or classes of issues, give or decline approval and so on. It does this within the context of the PCB, showing multiple layers and enabling high zoom levels, making it pos- sible for the parties to measure what they are seeing with near infinite precision. And trace- ability and workflow control is built into the system. Even better, Communicat8tor is not confined to our installed base, any system that can output our DPF format, Gerber or ODB++ can handle it. Shaughnessy: What are you working on for the next year or so? Tavernier: YELO and Communic8tor are totally new, and to be absolutely frank most of our R&D effort will be spent on enhancing them and handling incoming customer requests. Shaughnessy: What would you say are the big- gest drivers of your decisions regarding new products and upgrades? Tavernier: By nature, we are all techies rather than commercial people, so for us, setting R&D priorities involves heart-wrenching choices. By nature we are drawn to develop new, innova- tive stuff. However, we have an incredibly loyal customer base, many of whom have been with us for decades. It is our duty to protect their investments in software, automation and oper- ator training. We must keep a balance between improving existing products and developing new ones. And I think we do. We have con- tinued to develop Ucam, starting from a pure 32-bit single processor system, running native under Unix, to a native Windows system, to today's UcamX, 64 bit, multi-processing and a state- of-the art workspace GUI. While innovating and developing the platform, we worked incredibly hard to maintain broad compat- ibility so that our maintenance contract customers could come with us without being forced to buy new software. Not that we supply all new options for free under maintenance—we don't— but as part of our maintenance agreement, we protect our customers' investment and take them with us as technology changes. While we were developing Ucam, we also spent time innovating in other areas. With Integr8tor we were the first to bring automated data input and a workflow server system to the fabrication industry, and we are still the best at it. Now with Communic8tor we bring a totally new concept to the conundrum of communica- tion between fabrication, assembly and design. Shaughnessy: What technologies at Ucamco are really exciting to you? Tavernier: Personally, I am really excited by the AI technologies we have started to use in recent years. A PCB contains lots of data, but in a restricted and defined field. This makes it an ideal target for AI technologies. From the application point of view Communic8tor is the most exciting. It is a totally new concept, at least in our industry. It addresses a need which currently lacks structured solutions. Karel Tavernier, Ucamco

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