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Good morning (well, it’s morning somewhere)!

If you’re like me, waking up with a warm cup of coffee is a necessity. And similar to other coffee lovers, I appreciate knowing the source of my coffee beans. I support fair trade standards because they create better trading conditions for coffee bean farmers (and the beans are high quality).

Being a software development manager at PINpoint, I want manufacturers to know as much as possible about the MES solution in which they’re investing. It gives them confidence knowing that comprehensive development translates to reliable performance on the production floor, and it proves that they’re getting great value for their investment. Plus, it’s comforting knowing that the system is backed by a dependable, supportive team.

When it comes to software development, although the core of every system is similar throughout the industry, each company injects its own unique style on the product. This happens behind the scenes, and even though it may not show up in that company’s marketing materials or on their website, it impacts how that software performs for a manufacturer.

Similar to how you want to know the source of your coffee beans, you also want to know that your MES wasn’t just built in someone’s basement. That it was created by an experienced development team within a trustworthy company. The source is important!

This article explores three key aspects of software development, most of which happens behind the scenes: Software/Product Development Lifecycle (SDLC), DevOps, and the importance of a solid team. Of course, I’ll also explain what I know best: how PINpoint’s MES software development is different from any other solution.

Software/Product Development Lifecycle (SDLC)

All software systems require a framework on which they’re built. Controlling the entire process of software development — from writing source code to the software’s final version — is planned and structured within a software/product development lifecycle (SDLC).

The first step of an SDLC is always conceptualization and requirements, which come from stakeholders/product owners and manufacturing domain experts. Next, real-world scenarios and case studies are analyzed and investigated to maximize outcome effectiveness.

At this point, the full team becomes involved, developing software iteratively and incrementally while keeping focused on process adaptability and customer satisfaction. This is when modern, high-end software development teams set themselves apart from traditional development techniques, using agile frameworks to rapidly deliver working software that meets business requirements.

Finally, quality assurance and testing are implemented. All reputable software development teams have a solid QA process to ensure the product performs as expected.

DevOps

Defined differently by different companies, generally speaking DevOps is an approach that celebrates close collaboration between software development and IT operations, smoothing and speeding up the process between stakeholders and customers.

During this now common approach to software development, teams collaboratively build and test applications as well as monitor and analyze bottlenecks to optimize quickly. Pipelines allow for thorough release management, including automated and continuous builds, testing, and deployments.

Process improvement initiatives (and the tools needed to complete them) are continuous thanks to a feedback loop with customers. Post-deployment, full ecosystem management of the entire system helps to continuously implement needed bug fixes earlier and more cost effectively.

Plus, DevOps promotes the journey to lean and agile software delivery, allowing companies to collaborate and react quickly to marketplace changes.

Development Team

The foundation for any good software development is a dedicated and knowledgeable team; and the more passionate the better. The best teams consist of both computer science and manufacturing experts with years of experience building MES software.

Not only does this team need to be comfortable with the latest technology, they need to be able to use that advantage in practical ways that solve real-world problems.

Not all software development teams are naturally close-knit, and it may require staff scrutiny and/or team bonding exercises to build the most effective, cohesive team.

PINpoint’s Unique Strengths and Advantages

As previously mentioned, being PINpoint’s software development manager, I believe each software product reflects the team that developed it. Here’s how that makes a difference to our customers at PINpoint.

First, the software/product development lifecycle: our requirements come in from stakeholders (product owners) with more than 20 years of manufacturing experience and manufacturing domain experts servicing our customers on the plant floor. The importance of that wealth of knowledge is a huge asset; from capturing the right requirements to quality control.

While PINpoint is by no means the only company to use a hybrid approach to agile software development, the power of our team maximizes the scrum methodology and feature-driven development.

PINpoint uses the Microsoft ecosystem for requirements management and software development, mainly for the following reasons:

  1. Utilities and apps manage the SDLC — planning, requirements, designing, building, testing, deployment, and maintenance
  2. Source control
  3. Test manager
  4. Build tools

Next, DevOps: PINpoint combines the right people (culture), processes (guidelines), and products (engineering) to enable top-end software development and continuous delivery of value to customers.

Because quality is everything at PINpoint, we’re committed to software testing at numerous stages in the development cycle:

  • Unit testing by developers
  • Quality assurance testing (functional testing), regression testing
  • Performance and load testing
  • Pre-deployment testing (upgrades, etc.)

Our QA team is comprised of product experts who examine requirements and ensure the manufacture of reliable software that enhances customer confidence, company credibility, and the ability to excel in a competitive MES environment.

Finally, the PINpoint team: call them what you will — passionate, creative, geeks — the PINpoint software development team reflects our strong engineering culture and mindset

The natural energy of the team fuels an appetite to use new products and processes in exciting and powerful ways for our customers. Together, the PINpoint team is redefining how manufacturers use production data and analytics to solve real-world manufacturing problems.

Maybe it’s time for another cup of coffee! Meanwhile, consider your manufacturing process overall. If you believe yours can be more effective, we invite you to review our guide: A Smoother Road to Manufacturing Success. It covers five common manufacturing pain points and shows how an MES could be the solution to solve them. Get your copy by clicking below.

Manufacturing Pain Points Guide

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