According to the report by Statista, global spending in enterprise software reached more than $352 billion dollars in 2017. Among other solutions, this type of software includes business intelligence, enterprise resource planning (ERPs), customer relationship management, and supply chain management for modern manufacturing. So, let’s imagine you have an idea to develop an innovative software development project in this sector. Who would you have hired: a smart technical university student (perhaps, with accolades) or a team of experienced professionals? In practice, many prefer the first option, because it is less expensive yet still shows an adequate level of credibility. But in real life, the second option is the only solution in 90 per cent of cases. Fair enough, a bright trainee can really help you with the development and testing of simple prototypes, but when it comes to the creation of complex software systems, problems will inevitably begin.
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Industrial software development
Nowadays, the development of industrial software is closely associated with professional teams, and not individuals. Industrial software development is a multifaceted process that requires some synchronous efforts of a whole group of professionals under the strict guidance of an experienced project manager. Going industrial is difficult for an intern to understand. Reliability, scalability, usability, security and standards compliance – these are just a few of the requirements for a production version of any kind of software solution, and not solely industrial one. The engineering team can implement them within a reasonable time, but for one person (even the most talented MIT student) this is hardly possible.
First, let’s describe the four most common types of industrial software:
- Industrial estimating software
This kind of software generally includes estimating and quoting modules and material calculators. Along come digitizers, which represent handheld devices helping contractors save calculations and dimensions at factories for further use in the creation of new estimates.
- Industrial accounting software
Such type of software provides accountants with features like payroll, general ledgers, and accounts payable and receivable. Quite often these solutions include cash management, modules for billing, equipment costs, and contracts.
- Industrial intelligence software
Industrial intelligence software allows manufacturers to have constant control over key performance parameters and maintenance issues of their plant. Such kind of software is vital as errors within the working processes of a big factory may lead to catastrophic results.
- Industrial project management software
Using these solutions, employees can discover various aspects of a project: cost and progress, schedules, contracts, document control, capital equipment, and materials management. Dan Taylor, the content analyst at business software review platform Capterra described its benefits: “It’s got to have good financial and inventory management tools. It needs to allow the user to do material requirements planning (MRP) to manage the manufacturing process. It should have a safety management feature. All of these features together provide a holistic manufacturing management solution.”
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Having outlined this, let’s enumerate some valuable points to consider if you’re new to this type of software:
- Unlike days in college when future engineers learn mostly theory, the development of industrial software comes with practical learning.
- Again, in this industry, the stress is put on teamwork. What does it mean in terms of the development process itself? Industrial software developers must manage your code in a neat way so it never negatively affects or breaks any of their colleague’s code. If someone is going to improve or fix the code following one’s departure from the project, it makes perfect sense to leave a properly-written code as heritage.
- Developers will work with source code control, instead of replacing previously-written code which may lead to losing older versions of a project. So it’s vital to always keep track of any changes in newer versions using technologies like Git and SVN.
- Engineers in this field learn lots of new stuff on a frequent basis because industrial software projects are difficult to master using an ordinary stack of technologies. Besides, it’s not unusual when customers have a need to port their solution from one technology to others, or make the same version available on several technologies.
As we live in the Industry 4.0, with its technical progress, new solutions and initiatives, manufacturers have found themselves in a sort of pressure from omnipresent digitization of the world. The industry is regarded as “traditional”, the market has been there for ages, and the question they ask is “Do we really need to invest in new technologies?”
If you want a quick answer, well, yes, they do. However, before embracing digitization with arms wide open, the industry professionals have to find out what kind of technology has practical value to their factory or plant. After all, it’s all about the understanding of how technology can actually help workers in the era of Industry 4.0.
First, industrial CEOs have to eradicate any rushed approaches in their decision making as they usually lead to the loss of investments. A detailed plan can ensure that investments are pragmatic, and the software will be of real value.