Complex products, product life cycles up to 20 years, demanding requirements with regard to quality and short changeover times, as well as the need of easy operation… Kern meets these challenges with Model Driven Development and IBM Rational Rhapsody. Andreas Dubach, Head Systems Development, reports.
The Kern Group is worldwide leader in the development and production of systems for document processing and inserting. There are about 220 employees, 45 of which are in the R&D department, working at its headquarters in Konolfingen (Switzerland), taking care that Kern can offer highly competitive hard and software solutions for high volume document processing to its customers.
To fulfil the market needs, the systems have to be customized to a certain degree. Dubach is convinced: „It is considerably easier to discuss functionalities with the help of a model instead of code with customers as well as with employees”. As adaptations are integrated in the standard products, the re-use of components and modules is another important topic for Kern. In this field, Andreas Dubach still sees room for improvement which should be realised in the near future.
The selection of IBM Rationally Rhapsody was driven by the need of a powerful state-of-the-art architecture and design tool for UML. „Primarily, we wanted to control the increasing development complexity of our systems. At the same time it was important to us to reduce our time-to-market, as a reaction to the competition and the high cost pressure”, explains Andreas Dubach. The complex systems of Kern cut, sort and envelope high volume document dispatches.
„Yes! Today, our time-to-market for new developments is much shorter – thanks to model driven development and Rhapsody”, explains Andreas Dubach. In 2014, a new product generation was developed and launched within only one year. „In the past it took us three to four years!” By doing so, high requests regarding performance, functionality and opera-tor’s friendliness must be fulfilled. With Rhapsody also maintenance became much easier. „The aver-age life cycle of our systems is 20 years. So easy maintenance processes are very important.” During such a long period of time it is normal to have changes in staff. Andreas Dubach is convinced, that the introduction of new employees is much easier with a model driven development. With its modern developing infrastructure Kern is further an attractive employer. Today Kern is developing all new modules for the control systems with Rhapsody. „For existing modules we have a look at what goes faster: maintain without Rhapsody or re-engineer with Rhapsody. The engineers prefer the latter of course”, smiles Dubach. „The fully automatic code generation from the model makes our life easier!”
Calculating enough time for the restructuring is central for Andreas Dubach. „It needs a change in mentality – from code oriented to model based thinking. It is important to involve employees at an early stage.” Coaching by external specialists during the introduction phase as well as a careful training have helped to be productive with Rhapsody within a short time. „We can recommend Rhapsody at any time, especially for complex applications with a high state-event content!”
Own Real-Time Kernel
Industry PC, 80x86 platform
C / C++
IBM Rational Rhapsody®
Rhapsody / SlickEdit
LINUX & own development
Industry PC, 80x86 platform
|Before Project||After Project|
|UML||Together||IBM Rational Rhapsody®|
|IDE||SlickEdit||Rhapsody / SlickEdit|
|RTOS||Own Real-Time Kernel||LINUX & own development|
|Target platform||Industry PC, 80x86 platform||Industry PC, 80x86 platform|
|Programming language||C / C++||C++|