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Types of boards
The TridonicAtco Design Centre generally produces single or double sided boards with mixed analogue/digital technology used in control of a wide range of lighting systems. The type of boards designed at TridonicAtco for lighting control would generally come into the category of low complexity but high volume. TridonicAtco produce in excess of 1.3m devices per month or 45000-60000 per day. Therefore, they place a heavy emphasis on manufacturing efficiency and it is essential that the CAD system output works smoothly with the manufacturing processes in place.
The existing CAD system
TridonicAtco previously used a Zuken Visula PCB layout system installed since 1989 and this system had produced many hundreds of designs for the company. Though Visula gave good service, it is now a mature product and Zuken indicated some uncertainty about continuing development and support in future years. In order to plan well ahead TridonicAtco considered the feasibility of changing to a different CAD system, either a Zuken product, or possibly from a completely new CAD vendor.
CAD products evaluated
The logical upgrade path from Visula proposed by Zuken was to the Zuken CR5000 system. An evaluation by TridonicAtco showed CR5000 to be a proficient CAD tool. However, it was also recognised that CR5000 would possibly require a considerable learning curve. Also,the CR5000 represented a substantial financial commitment covering initial purchase, training and ongoing support costs. It was considered a practical proposition to consider and evaluate other, non-Zuken, CAD solutions.
A PADS PowerPCB demonstration system was evaluated from time to time over a 12 month period and was considered as a strong contender to replace Visula at TridonicAtco as PowerPCB was clearly a capable system. However, TridonicAtco were contacted by Tecnotron, about a new CAD product that Tecnotron had recently started to represent in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. This product was Pulsonix from WestDev in the UK.
Pulsonix was demonstrated to TridonicAtco and the design team were immediately struck by the modern appearance of the product. Pulsonix was quite simple to understand and appeared to have the power needed to address the design and manufacturing requirements at TridonicAtco. Also, the development team at Pulsonix had the technical capability to develop a translator from the Visula design and library database using the Zuken CADIF format. The transfer of archive data was not available as a deliverable with the PADS system.
There followed an in-depth evaluation of Pulsonix. The design team liked the use of a standard Windows interface (Copy, Paste etc); the use of Technology files,pad generation, layer handling and library creation which were all found easy to understand and use. Pulsonix product updates were frequent and service with Pulsonix was found to be very responsive.
Based on the reports from this evaluation TridonicAtco made the decision to replace Visula with two Pulsonix systems in September 2005: one network licensed version and one node locked. Also the special CADIF interface was purchased to facilitate data transfer from the Visula system and the Pulsonix Library Integration toolkit was included to create integration with the TridonicAtco company System Application Program (SAP) system - for automatic update of part data.
Experiences with Pulsonix since installation
Development Engineer, Design Services, Mr Sascha Steiner commented: "It is vitally important that we receive fast response and support from our software tools suppliers.We feel that WestDev are really interested in looking after their customers, and the support we get on Pulsonix is excellent".