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New DevOps platform with a standardised and proven workflow delivers enormous time savings.
TBA Group is a fast-growing consultancy and software company that uses software to optimise the logistics processes of ports, container terminals, airports, factories and other logistics systems. Teams of software development specialists for this sector work tirelessly to optimise the software, add new features and develop integrations.
Container terminals around the world use TBA's software to automate control of their fleet of vehicles. At these terminals, everything is constantly in motion to get containers from ship to shore. Gigantic cranes are remote-controlled by people from an office building on the terminal. Trucks, manned but also fully automated without cabins, drive around. TBA supplies the software to control all these vehicles in order to get the many containers to the right place.
On one hand, software is developed for simple tasks such as 'Drive from A to B to pick up a container'. On the other hand, more complex software is provided that takes planning into account, for example: 'These containers need to be taken off the ship, distribute the work as effectively as possible among the available vehicles and choose the fastest route'. If the vehicle is manned, a command appears on the computer screen so that the driver knows exactly what to do.
Git, Self-managed Gitlab on-premise
Travel and logistics
Developer tools according to industry standards
At the container terminals, there is a constant flow of work, loading containers onto trucks, trains or barges to get products to the customer as efficiently as possible. However, the logistics at a terminal can be unpredictable. What happens when a crane above the ship breaks down? Then the work has to be divided among the other cranes.
In addition, it can get very busy because there are many vehicles on the terminal and parts of the terminal could temporarily be unavailable because mechanics are working on repairs. Add to this the fact that there are also containers arriving that need to be refrigerated, for example. If it is not possible to get the container to the terminal fast enough, it will slowly heat up, with all the resulting consequences.
The software must therefore be very stable and have a high uptime to be available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. To make this possible, these unique software solutions are worked on continuously. In the past 20 years, a large innovative software package has been developed, but the development teams have met some limitations.
The developers work with self-built test frameworks with automatic tests and a test run takes on average 6 to 7 hours. This means that they cannot develop continuously and often wait until the end of a sprint to test code, causing high peaks on the DevOps platform. Faster feedback on the quality of the code, more frequent testing and less frustration was the trigger for TBA to look at good tools that have already proven effective and to design the continuous delivery and DevOps process accordingly. An additional advantage is that when new developers start working at TBA, they are often already familiar with these tools, therefore less training time is needed.
"We did a complete modernization of development pipelines and workflows. As a result, TBA got a boost in consistency and quality of releases."
Aimar Aareleid, Site reliability Engineer
New DevOps platform for developers to monitor, test and deploy code
After a positive proof of value with self-managed Gitlab on-premise and DevOps platform, the implementation of a new development pipeline was started. The initial feedback from the development teams has been positive. Testing is running much smoother and these insights are being used to optimise the rest of the testing process. The teams are particularly enthusiastic about the overview GitLab offers with insight into various components of the code and the speed with which you can retrieve these insights.
The next step is to implement a customized pipeline for Java and C++. The implementation of a Devops job for testing complete products and jobs that allow developers to deploy the software directly to a specific customer are also in the planning. The goal is to eventually phase out the current self-built test pipeline completely.
A standard way of working provides a boost in speed and quality of delivered code. Developers get fast code feedback, stable test results and deliver higher quality work. There is more time for programming, less frustration about the test process and onboarding new colleagues is easier. In other words: a boost for developing world-class software.
"We make software that can do something really special, but at the same time we are a normal software company. I would therefore like to set a standard for software development that is used by all large companies in the world. That will help attract new employees and make automated tests much faster."
Heiko Harders, System architect, TBA
World class software development for container terminals worldwide
Time gain in the development process: from automatic tests that take a working day to test results within 10 minutes
Modular build: only test components where code has changed
Optimized testing process: faster feedback on code quality and more stable test results
DevOps Best practices: developers can focus on core business and own expertise and iterative innovation: meet customer needs faster