Automation and effective maintenance of the systems and processes are critical to any enterprise. Therefore, businesses seek new ways to improve response times to faults, reduce equipment downtime and extend the lifespan of every asset. And mobile technology offers major benefits in this respect. More and more, enterprises integrate their SCADA systems with mobile solutions, which allows them to seamlessly access data and switch quickly between planned and unplanned maintenance using a mobile device. This way they can respond to any failure notification in seconds thus reducing the cost of equipment management.
In this article, we’d like to share our experience in working on the solution that meets all the aforementioned needs and facilitates automation at Toyota, Honda, Dubai Airports, ASDA, DPD etc. The product developed by SCHAD in cooperation with N-iX engineers combines IBM knowledge management system, SCADA, and CMMS in a single mobile app for industrial automation. It allows to automate, control, and maintain production without the unnecessary waste of resources.
How we integrated SCADA and CMMS functionality in a single customizable solution
SCHAD designs products for businesses where downtime is a crucial factor such as airports, warehouses, distribution centers, and power stations. As a partner of IBM, it integrates IBM knowledge management system to monitor and control various processes from a mobile phone. At some point the company faced the need to modernize their solutions to drive growth in tough economic climate. Thus they decided to extend their engineering capacities with the dedicated development team in Ukraine.
The joint work of N-iX professionals and SCHAD started with the need to build a flexible solution based on the legacy product EXTEND7000. The client’s main goal was to improve the existing software and apply the latest technologies for extending the solution’s capabilities. As the initial product was written in Delphi, the team received the task to modernize and improve its functionality. Additionally, the client required the software architecture and development of the new solution based on mode Java technologies to meet the growing customization and scalability challenges.
The dedicated development team consisting of 8 people provided full-cycle development and design of the enterprise mobility solution including the server-side components and a highly customizable mobile client. What’s more, the mobile application incorporates cross-product workflows and reporting for engineering activities by combining preventive and reactive maintenance management.
A unique feature of the solution is the integration of SCADA and CMMS functionality. This enables seamless workflow completion on a mobile device and allows to process planned work orders and simultaneously respond to unplanned fault notifications. For instance, an engineer working on the inspection root can receive an alarm notification right after the fault has occurred on a system. He may accept the alarm to indicate he is taking ownership and open the document showing the location. Links to other documents relevant to the alarm can also be included. Moreover, the controllers have visibility of alarms and users, which optimizes all the processes.
How we tackled online and offline data synchronization and customization challenges
SCHAD is proud of providing mobility solutions to Honda, Toyota, Dubai Airports, ASDA, and many other well-known companies. Since the operation principles of these companies are different, N-iX programmers faced the challenge of adjusting the product to various clients’ needs. Therefore, the team worked on the customization of the solution to maximize its flexibility. As a result of joint effort, the solution can suit the requirements of enterprises operating in different industries.
Another challenge the team faced was the integration of big amounts of data when switching between offline and online modes. The developers received the task to devise a fully self-contained solution that would enable synchronization of the database. In case the online client loses connectivity to the server, the user can work offline on the previously synchronized data. This eliminates the potential risks of data loss and ensures smooth data transmission. As a result of their work, the users can operate SCHAD Mobile Work Management in both offline and online modes and have all time access to the data regardless of the network state.
Delivered Result and Ongoing Work
At the early stages of the cooperation, N-iX dedicated development team performed investigation and analysis of SCHAD’s initial product. Later the team went through the full cycle development of the new solution. It included software architecture, development, testing, as well as deployment of server-side and client-side components. Moreover, the developers designed the architecture of the platform applying latest coding practices to match the challenge of integration with various CMMS systems. The team performed quality assurance to guarantee error-free operation and undertook R&D activities to meet business requirements of the client.
During 4 years of cooperation, N-iX has established itself as a reliable offshore development partner of SCHAD. Through effective collaboration, the developers successfully integrated CMMS with SCADA in a single mobile app for industrial automation. This solution has helped the target users to improve response time to problems and system failures, reduce unscheduled downtime up to 30%, and enabled proactive maintenance management. At the present stage, the product is being actively enhanced and supported by N-iX developers.