Embedded Software Development and CI/CD solution

coatmaster AG

“We wanted to invest in a reliable partner whose specialists understood our business. Our consultant was a member of our professional family who helped improve our product.”

Urs Vögeli | Head of Software | coatmaster AG, Switzerland

Business challenge

Coatmaster AG was pursuing new market opportunities with a new hand-held device. Therefore, they needed a reliable technology partner to help them succeed in this endeavor.

Transformation

ScaleFocus developed Custom Graphical User Interface (GUI) and virtual keyboard for an innovative hardware device. We also helped coatmaster AG establish a CI/CD process.

Achievements

16x faster

deployment of new software features, updates and code changes

Shorer time-to-market

due to automation of key processes

Increased client base

due to improved CX and the ability to use the hand-held device remotely

We were absolutely thankful for our great collaboration with ScaleFocus. Their software engineers made smart suggestions and integrated seamlessly with the internal team.

Urs Vögeli | Head of Software | coatmaster AG, Switzerland

Business challenge story

Coatmaster is an innovative product that digitalizes the coating industry. It was developed by an experienced engineering team of professionals from the ZHAW School of Engineering, Winterthur, Switzerland.

Their new product needed software of equal capabilities to unlock its full potential and optimize the whole technological process. Coatmaster AG was looking for an experienced IT consultant that can support their team through the whole process of developing, enhancing and automating key parts of the software development and deployment. 

Partnership objectives:

  • Develop a custom operating system for the new hand-held hardware device, that can support all its features and ensure fast work and connection with the computing server.
  • Develop a custom graphical user interface (GUI) for the device that ensures seamless communication between client and server protocol.
  • Develop a custom on-screen keyboard and set up the interaction with the hardware buttons of the device.
  • Automate and speed up the deployment of code changes.
  • Establish Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) processes.

The completion of these meant a successful launch of the new and innovative product of coatmaster AG and new market possibilities, including potential clients from other heavy industries.

Transformation story

Custom Graphical User Interface (GUI) Development and Consultancy

Initially, ScaleFocus’ embedded software engineer conducted comprehensive interviews with the coatmaster AG’s team. These kick-off meetings helped us to fully understand the product and to pinpoint the graphical user interface specifics to our client’s needs. As an outcome of this workflow, both teams reached the consensus that the GUI development was just a part of the engagement.

To help bring the hand-held device to the market, ScaleFocus provided broad expertise not only in the GUI development, but also in hardware, Linux software, and additional embedded programming languages like C, C++ and more. 

 

Custom GUI development

The custom GUI was a crucial part of bringing the hand-held device to the market utilizing all functionalities of the hardware. We guided and consulted the coatmaster AG’s team on every stage of the custom software development life cycle. From software research and architecture design to GUI development and implementation. We empowered faster collaboration and brought additional value by leveraging technologies such as Linux Embedded (Angstrom), Yocto toolchain, C, C++, Qt Framework, and others.

The custom GUI is based on Linux Embedded including a couple of important features. It brings the hardware to life while supporting the communication with the computing server - the “brain” behind the process of the accurate measurement of the coating. Yocto toolchain was used for the development of this custom operating system. 

As with the rest of the software, the graphical UI was important for the connection between the hand-held device and the computing server as well, ensuring the successful REST Protocol. This way the team ensured a seamless communication between the device and server protocol. 

Additionally, Qt Framework and C++ were used for the UI on the device itself for the development of the logic behind the user interactions and the way it handles the visualization of the collected data.

 

A virtual keyboard developed from scratch

In terms of the visual interface and UX optimization, the fact that the product is created to be used in a harsh environment (factories, outdoors, etc.) meant that the interaction and the user controls could not involve a touchscreen. Therefore, we implemented a more robust and reliable solution - a combination of hardware buttons. We created an on-screen keyboard that is flexible and powerful enough to be useful for the end-users in the completion of day to day tasks. It was developed from scratch with C and C++. Our software team was part of all the processes, including monitoring the hardware activation and optimization of the hand-held device.

 

Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment Process

ScaleFocus’ team contributed significantly to the establishment of an automated deployment process for upgrades of the hand-held device. Moreover, it was achievable without the need for physical access to it in a fast and secure manner. 

Before the optimization the process was manual, and it took the team more than a day to deploy the new code to the device. Our team created a custom automation server with Jenkins (written in Java), configurated webhook with additional programming on Phyton and Bash Shell. This way when a new code is uploaded to the GitHub repository, the system automatically prepares it and deploys it to the devices.

In the end, coatmaster AG had a fully automated process of Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment. Now the human part in the whole deployment process is just observatory. This resulted in a 1600% faster deployment process. It takes only 33 minutes from the moment the new code is uploaded to the moment it’s implemented on the device.

Achievements story

All the objectives were completed on time. The most significant business outcome for coatmaster AG was the successful launch of the new and innovative hand-held device. This extended the company’s portfolio and opened the real possibility of reaching new clients. Today, coatmaster AG’s products (coatmaster) are an integral part of 50 highly automated production sites across Europe and Asia.

This is the successful outcome of the partnership between our software engineering team and coatmaster AG. Together we brought the new and innovative handheld device to life with the development of the GUI and the operating system. The complex software solutions that we developed facilitates seamless communication between the hand-held device and the processing server, which made the device reliable for remote usage.

The software updates of the device were fully automated which accelerated its time-to-market tremendously. The CD/ID process means that the updates to the clients’ devices are made over-the-air (OTA).

  • 16x faster deployment of new software features, updates and code changes.
  • Accelerated time-to-market due to automation of key processes.
  • Increased customer base due to improved customer experience and the ability to use the hand-held device remotely.
  • Enhanced support due to the OTA software updates.
  • The custom GUI optimized the connection between the customer’s device and the processing server resulting in a stable and swift real-time data analysis.

About coamaster AG

Coatmaster AG (previously known as Winterthur Instruments AG) is founded in 2011. The company develops and sells coatmaster product line, including the newest model Flex – an innovative hand-held device that measures coating thickness from a distance without the need for contact with the surface. Coatmaster’s customers use the device from the very early stages of their manufacturing process to determine if the coating thickness corresponds to the initially set standards. It works with all types of materials and coatings (powder, wet paint, thermal spraying and so on) and helps companies to automate their manufacturing process.

This way all deviations are eliminated in a very early stage of production, which saves not only resources but time while cutting down the manufacturing costs. Thus, giving their clients market advantage and higher revenue. The majority of coatmaster’s clients are companies from the automotive, construction, aviation, furniture and energy industries.