Can Optimizing Cross Cut Saws Really Make a Difference? - TigerStop

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Can Optimizing Cross Cut Saws Really Make a Difference?

Your crosscut saw gets a whole lot of action. More than nearly any piece of equipment in your shop. It’s a real workhorse and cuts day in and day out. It seems to do the job just fine and doesn’t require a whole lot of fuss or technical service. The whole team knows how to use it. It’s not complicated, and that’s the beauty of it. As the age-old proverb states, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So why automate your saw if it works perfectly fine? What could possibly justify the expense? And does anyone really need an optimizing crosscut saw, or is it another superfluous expenditure for the tool addict in your shop?

Lumber Ain’t Cheap, Folks

The simplest answer to the question posed is no. Nobody needs an optimizing saw. The same way you don’t really need a smartphone to give you directions from point A to point B or to help answer emails when you’re on the go. You don’t need it to help you make large calculations, but it’s helpful if you want to make the most of your time. Time is precious, and we all know time is expensive.

Optimizing crosscut saws help make use of another resource, that, like time, is exceedingly expensive. We’re talking about lumber. Lumber is likely one of the largest line items on your business’s monthly statement.  So it’s only logical that you’d want to get the maximum use from the material you’ve purchased. Seems pretty simple, right? But this is actually where things get somewhat complicated. So hear us out.


It’s nearly impossible to quickly and accurately calculate the best material yield in your head. Unless, of course, you’re some mystical number-crunching savant with a memory like Alex Mullen’s. Why is it so hard? Well, there are a lot of factors to consider.

You have thousands of square feet of expensive material on hand to complete a number of high-priority jobs. Each job requires a particular sequence of cuts. There are hundreds of thousands of possible ways to go about cutting the material for all of the jobs, but there’s only one correct sequence that guarantees the smallest amount of scrap material left over. That’s the goal, after all: to make the best use of your expensive material with the least amount of waste. Wasted material = wasted dollars.

Not such an easy task. Especially with the pressure of having to get product out the door and to the customer in a timely manner. Not only do you have thousands of feet worth of material and multiple cut lists to take into consideration, but you also have to factor in varying widths and lengths of material, as well as tracking and sorting all of the material. And what happens when you run out of a certain type of material or miscut a piece, or when your shift is up and the next guy has to pick up where you left off? Will he have a clue where to start?

Implementing an automated crosscut saw with Dynamic Optimization software into your production line solves all of these issues and more. Here’s how.

How Dynamic Optimization™ Works

First and foremost, let’s discuss how Dynamic Optimization™ software works. Dynamic Optimization software calculates the best cutting order so you have the least amount of scrap waste. The software goes through every combination of every length and quantity of material in your cut list. It will optimize up to 4,000 different cut lengths and up to 10,000 quantities of each cut length for a total of 40,000,000 different cut options. It does this in seconds.

When Dynamic Optimization is used with TigerTouch™ tablet software, you can manage an infinite and unbounded cut list. It could be millions of cuts long with millions of quantities of each cut, and TigerTouch’s Dynamic Optimization software wouldn’t even be phased. TigerTouch would still quickly optimize the material in seconds.

TigerTouch screen on optimizing cross cut saw.
Any TigerStop can be enhanced with touch screen control with TigerTouch™. Select the photo to learn more.

What makes TigerStop’s optimization software so special? The “Dynamic” part of it. Dynamic simply means constant activity or continuous change.

The Difference

A lot of optimization software looks at all of your material at once and compares it to all of the cut lists or jobs that you need to process. Dynamic Optimization doesn’t work this way. Instead, it looks at the piece of material it’s cutting one at a time and constantly moves and dynamically optimizes at the width of the material it’s given. Because it only takes into consideration the current board, you can introduce scrap or remnant boards into the optimizer, and it will optimize those parts into the cut list as well.

Why look at an individual piece of material versus all of the material? It’s simple. When a company’s engineers set out to optimize based on all of the organization’s material and create a big, beautiful optimized list for the operator to start cutting, that perfect list doesn’t factor in something we like to call real life.

So, for example, when your operator is sent that nice optimized list, and halfway through it he accidentally miscuts a part, it throws off the entire optimization process. All of that beautiful optimization is ruined, and it has to be redone. And redoing anything takes time and money, and creates bottlenecks.

Miscutting a board is a (tragic) common reality on a shop floor. Optimizing crosscut saws with Dynamic Optimization software are a safeguard against this common reality. It takes into account one piece at a time, regardless of whether it’s a nice whole piece of stock, scrap, or a miscut remnant.

UV crayon to mark defects in material with Crayon Defect Marking.
Use a UV crayon to mark defects in the material with Crayon Defect Marking.

How to Save Money on Your Lumber Bill

Just as a refresher, an automated crosscut saw with Dynamic Optimization tells you the most efficient cutting order so you are left with the least amount of material waste. It’s as simple as that. No math, no hassle, no heaping piles of scrap. No scrap = no money down the drain.

Another way optimizing crosscut saws helps you squash that heaping lumber bill is through Crayon Defect Marking. Rather than paying for the most expensive defect-free lumber, like FAS or Select, you can purchase lower-grade No. 1 Common and get rid of those unsightly knots quickly and in-house. An automatic crosscutting saw makes it easy. Operators use a UV crayon to mark defects in the material. The saw cuts around those defects and optimizes the clear material while cutting parts. Think about how much you could save on your lumber bill by dropping a grade or two.

Accuracy is an additional benefit you get from using an optimizing crosscut saw station. You won’t ever have to use a tape measure again, and you will have repeatable accuracy at thousandths of an inch, meaning no more cutting inaccuracies, less material waste, and greater lumber savings.