A Tale of Two Solutions
Packaging Automation Company Puts TK Solver™ to the Test

 
Douglas Machine, Inc., a leader in paperboard, corrugated, and shrink-film packaging solutions located in Alexandria, MN, is used to coming up with creative ways to solve problems. With customers ranging from food and beverage to personal care and pharmaceutical and thousands of machines installed in more than 30 countries, Douglas Machine knows a thing or two about packing automation.
 
Senior Product Engineering Analyst Rick Lukanen was tasked with designing a blended cam using cycloid and constant velocity segments. He described the task as “number-crunching intense” and it just so happens that at the time Rick was presented with this challenge, he had recently received a trial copy of TK Solver™ from Universal Technical Systems, Inc. (UTS) of Rockford, IL. Rick thought it was the perfect opportunity to put TK Solver 5.0 to the test!
 
Rick was able to install TK Solver, familiarize himself with its unique rule-based approach, and solve the problem in two days. A short time later, the same calculations were required in a different machine. Rick was again tasked with solving it. However, the 10-day trial license for TK Solver had expired, so he derived the necessary equations required to solve for the unknown variables and wrote a program in BASIC to obtain the results. This time, it took him eight days.
 
“A large portion of time in developing the BASIC program was deriving the equations to solve the problem,” says Lukanen. “This was completely eliminated in the TK Solver development – a huge savings in time. It greatly reduced the complexity of the analysis.”
 
The inherent ability in TK Solver to solve for anything, in any direction, is what Lukanen says sets it apart from traditional analysis methods. TK Solver applies rules rather than an algorithm for solving problems. So time typically spent deriving the equations to solve a problem is totally eliminated.
 
“A tremendous value to the expediency of solving problems in TK Solver is that it is not important to list the rules in any particular order. In procedure based languages it is critical to have the equations appear in the correct order,” Lukanen explains.
 
“The TK Solver analysis is so much more powerful than analysis software written in traditional programming languages such as BASIC and FORTRAN, this is largely due to the fact that I can do unlimited ‘what if’ and ‘how do I get a certain result’ scenarios,” he adds.
 
The rule-based nature of TK Solver is something Lukanen thinks will allow the analysis group to write programs that can be classified as “knowledge-based computing.”  Lukanen anticipates TK Solver will play a pivotal role in helping people within the organization who have little or no experience in problem solving make expert decisions.