A global manufacturer of industrial agricultural equipment known for its commitment to quality and innovation decided to modernize the in-cabin operator experience by introducing a state-of-the-art touchscreen command center that controls every aspect of their heavy machinery such as tractors and combines.
The design intention was to make the command center easily accessible by adapting user interface ideas from today’s mobile devices. The controls for major tractor functions such as AutoTrac™ resume, throttle, transmission, SCVs, PTO and hitch needed to be easy to use and allow operators to customize the pages to view the functions that are most important.
Coinciding with the imperative to comply with new Full Tier Emission Standards, the new command center software had a fixed release plan that allowed for no slips whatsoever. At the same time, the agricultural manufacturer opted for a complete rewrite of their entire software stack. This would accomplish their goal of a modern and flexible touchscreen user experience. The resulting large-scale software engineering project was conducted using strict agile practices and test-driven development.
Multiple engineering teams became part of the solution. Over a time-span of thirty months and under the leadership of ICS Engineering, we trained dozens of employees in Qt, while developing a customized and highly efficient Qt Widget set that reflects the customer's brand and desired look-and-feel. Four additional ICS teams, each with a team lead, product owner and engineering manager, developed the entire set of tractor apps delivering functionality such as throttle, transmission, SCVs, PTO and hitch but also the in-cabin infotainment experience complete with Bluetooth phone integration.
To accomplish this most effectively, ICS senior architects engineered and implemented a new and streamlined communication protocol. This protocol is a revision of the CAN-Bus based VT protocol between in-cabin command center and various engine control units. At the same time, the ICS senior project director anticipated staffing needs for a spike in workload and incorporated European senior software engineering personnel to meet cost constraints, guaranteeing the highest productivity. ICS deployed senior engineering personnel that took on the role of product owners for each final phase of the delivery. These engineers delivered the software by working on-site and side by side with employees through the final stages of integration testing.
Because ICS embraces and practices agile processes, our teams achieved deliveries for milestone after milestone one-hundred percent on time. Our experience in test-driven development led to the final software being extremely stable and virtually bug-free.
Beginning in January 2014 and from here on forward the agricultural manufacturer’s tractors and other heavy machinery will be delivered with ICS produced software that is a generation ahead of the competition, as it is like no other and is easy to use, efficient and beautiful.