This is the second part of my retrospective series I started here.
When I’m asked about my favorite project in my career I always talk about this one. Every part of this project was solid, well established and justifiable. There were no need to make any compromise on anything. We didn’t have to worry about licence fees, as long as we used IBM. 🙂 And what’s most satisfying about a project? The sponsors and the users find it useful!
Disclaimer: I’ve put this together mostly from memory and the few remaining documents I found laying around in my archives. I have no idea if this system is is in use any more, for all I know it probably is.
A few years passed after the Intermed project, Java became a strong player in enterprise development. With the J2EE application servers becoming a viable option, coding your entire stack from scratch was no longer necessary. Still there were quite a few gray areas that had to be worked around.
I was working as a contracted freelancer at IBM at the Hungarian manufacturing site, that produced (and still produces) high-end data storage systems. The manufacturing site ran a high number of IT components: shop floor control systems, order management systems, procurement systems, truck load tracking. All in all it was a smooth running operation, but still faced a problem. There was only a really limited communication between the systems, so monitoring the actual status of an order was quite difficult.
Production monitoring is essential for running this operation. No two orders were the same. During the “free” time the plant manufactured “prebuild” machines, that were configured for the most likely order configurations. These were placed in a buffer, and when an order came in they were reconfigured with the exact specifications. This required a common monitoring application that could be used to match the orders and the available machines. The most time in the build phase was used for testing the configuration. If a “feature” was removed from the machine it didn’t require re-testing, and it was easily shipped. It was essential to use pre-tested prebuilds that had minimal difference to the order.
To achieve a transparent order monitoring a Lotus Notes application was created which was loaded with data from the relevant systems provided real-time reports to oversee the operation. There were some problems with the solution, as it was not as fast as expected. The data load was running so long, that the incoming datafiles stepped on each-other’s toes, data was inaccessible during the load, so basically the system was down for the better part of the day. The project was started to overcome these problems.
Continue reading “10 year retrospective – SCISy, or “Supply Chain Inventory System” @ IBM”