Our client, an international engineering and manufacturing company, needed to upgrade and modernize a manufacturing assembly line that was dependent on some very old and unstable software.
Industrial automation isn’t one of the easiest fields to work in. Most manufacturers put more effort into the machinery than they do into the software behind it.
Often software is written in very old programming languages and is not very user friendly. It is common for the software developers to have even moved on or gone out of business, so getting customization or meaningful improvements can be expensive if not impossible to achieve.
In large organizations many thousands of staff hours can be lost to poorly implemented backend software that isn’t very user friendly.
Our client had a range of disparate software solutions that ran huge parts of their production line, but none of the software actually spoke to each other.
Consequently, the challenge was to find a method to link data from several different production systems and get them to work together, while at the same time improving productivity and the user experience.
Break out the hard hat and yellow vest! This isn’t the type of work that you can do from behind a desk.
The team needed to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. Time on the manufacturing floor learning the manufacturing process from the ground up was necessary before writing a single line of code.
This was a hard core programming job that required a very technical project manager and programming staff who were versed in very old technologies.
The databases behind the manufacturing process had to be protected while at the same time building programming logic that could extend the data and build upon it while at the same time getting different technologies to work together.
Besides drinking a lot of coffee and murdering quite a few packs of panadol, we got there in the end. This would be the hardest coding job we ever undertook – going back to work with coding languages that we thought had been consigned to history. We achieved the client’s goal of getting all the systems talking to each other and greatly improved the day to day work experience for the workers on the manufacturing floor.Tim Reynolds Chief Software Architect