Software Development and QA Services for a Manufacturer of Laser Cutting Machines
Heavy industry seems to be a very conservative branch of the economy; on the other hand, the most advanced and cutting-edge Industry 4.0 solutions are created here. Modern industrial automation, ubiquitous software, and the challenges which have mainly affected software development companies to date are now the bread and butter in companies from this sector.
About the client
Our client is a production and service company from Switzerland which has been operating on the market since 1964 and has a presence in over 30 countries around the world. The client is a leading provider of specialized laser metal processing services, and focuses on implementing the concept of the Smart Factory by automating processes and the flow of data.
The main challenges of the project
The client invests vast resources to ensure that the machines produced by the company are the most advanced on the market. The development of machines, as well as the introduction of solutions supporting smart factories to the range of solutions offered by the company, necessarily requires investment in software development projects. The company had previously used internal resources for this; however, this did not always bring the expected results. Therefore, management decided to find a technological partner to audit the existing solutions in order to propose the best ones, and with the necessary competences to implement and maintain custom systems.
- development of industrial PLC software (Beckhoff PLC software), as part of a control system for machines manufactured by the company and a material transport system,
- development of computer-aided design software for end-users. Software for designers to create plans for elements cut by machines,
- development of software for machine operators. The software supports the interface on the operator panel, and enables the selection of a project for cutting material as well as management of the production process from the machine level,
- development of service software to analyze the state of the system (laser machines, as well as automation of materials transportation, etc.), for machine and system service technicians,
- creating a quality policy and test process for all the customer’s software development projects.
The team includes engineers experienced in the field of industrial automation, control systems and modern solutions in the machine industry, as well as .Net developers, mobile developers and software testers. JCommerce specialists work closely with engineers employed by the client and are managed by the client’s Project Managers to carry out all the tasks entrusted to them together.
New functionalities and a decrease in the number of errors have already resulted, but optimization of the client’s complex IT environment is a long-term process and is still underway. However, the project has already achieved the first tangible results:
- the change in internal data exchange algorithms in PLC reduced the processor load from almost 100% to less than 30%. As a result, there was no longer any need to upgrade the PLC with the higher, more efficient, but also much more expensive model,
- the optimization of the system snapshots procedure for service purposes shortened the time taken for snapshot saving from 90 seconds to less than one second, and made the whole procedure more effective and much more reliable.
Further cooperation: Dedicated process automation application based on Microsoft Azure
At JCommerce, we support intelligent industrial transformation and help clients who implement Smart Factory solutions. Find out more about the development of the application that uses the potential of the cloud to help our client automate and accelerate the configuration of their machines.
In industrial activities, reliability, precision, speed and smoothness of processes are important. Our client deals with laser metal processing. Different parameters are needed to process each material (e.g. due to the thickness of the material), and there are thousands or even hundreds of thousands of combinations of parameters. An entire department is constantly working on refining the existing and developing parameters for machines.
The client had to distribute thousands of machine configuration parameters to each customer several times a year, for which service technicians were responsible. Our client did not have a dedicated system for transferring configuration files, and so needed a solution that would facilitate and speed up the configuration of laser machines used for material processing and that would ensure the security and confidentiality of this extremely valuable data.
- Data centralization.
- Securing the distribution of confidential data.
- Integration of client’s applications and systems.
- Improving the flow of data between the central database and customers’ machines.
- Acceleration of the machine configuration process.
- Simplifying customer service and service activities.
A .NET and Technical Solution Manager who has been associated with our company for 15 years and holds the title of Microsoft Certified Azure Expert was involved in the project, preparing the PoC. As part of the project, a dedicated Parameter Database application is being prepared, which will enable the centralization of configuration parameters used in laser machines. Thanks to the solution based on the Azure cloud, all those who are interested in parameter data, both from the customer’s organization and end users / machine operators, will be able to search and download configuration files from the cloud, in accordance with the agreed permissions, while maintaining the security and confidentiality of the data.
Benefits for the client
- Faster machine configuration and implementation of optimization changes.
- All the client’s products, systems and applications will use a centralized database.
- Service technicians do not need to visit customers to determine the parameters for the processing of given material.
- Option to modify and optimize machines on an ongoing basis.
- Support of a JCommerce specialist at the client’s site.
Solutions: .NET Core, ASP.NET Core Blazor, ASP.NET Web API, Sql Server 2019, Microsoft Azure