Navitec

Web-based application for managing Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) fleets on tablet and mobile devices

Navitec Systems specializes in software production for Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGV) for global clients. They are pioneers in natural feature navigation and their technology has been proven in many applications.

New Things Co created a web-based application for tablet and mobile to visualize and manage AGV fleets. The team enabled Navitec’s developers to continue independently after the project.

Video of the application in action here

Design driven iterative development for immediate benefits

Navitec System offers monitoring and configuration software as part of their navigation system. Previously all this software had been Windows-based. To offer added value to their clients they wanted to create a modern cross-platform and easy-to-use solution for their clients that would run on mobile and tablet devices.

Our team is always focused on the needs of the client and we use iterative development for quick feedback loops. This project, like most that we do, started off with a design workshop with the client. We succeeded in discovering the core needs of end-users and the most efficient way to create a usable first version of the software. With this insight, our team in close collaboration with Navitec’s developers started building the visualization of AGVs on a factory floor.

We used modern web technologies to rapidly create a robust and extensible base for real-time visualization of all needed information of a complex factory in an intuitive zoomable 2D map. After completing the initial 2D map in just three months, we extended it to include all necessary control and command functions for AGVs allowing end users to use the new app for full control of their fleet.

While building the application we worked very closely with Navitec developers to integrate to their existing APIs and adapt them to the web. We also did extensive knowledge sharing and collaborative development with their developers to bring them up to speed on the latest best practices of modern web development. Due to this close collaboration their developers were able to take over the further development of the application.

“Working with New Things Co was very effective. It allowed us to develop a modern cross platform application very quickly and at the same time level up our web development skills”

Jouni Sievilä / Vice president of Engineering, Navitec

Process, design and technological skills ensure success

Technology alone is not a silver bullet for success. One needs to understand what is most important for end users and how they use the software. To answer these questions we facilitated a series of design workshops at the start of a project. Together with the client our team defines the scope, focus areas, user groups and their needs. Naturally the next step is to create a concept of the service. First with wireframes, and gradually moving towards a high fidelity version all the way up to a Design System that is turned into a working software component library.

In this project, the front-end is built with React using WebGL to render the whole AGV fleet, their statuses, point cloud environment, and attached factory equipment such as doors with a real time display of position, cargo, and related data. AGVs can also be controlled by the operator, giving order, driving and positioning commands through the interface.

All of this complexity required both stellar skills in development and design. Optimization of data updates in the UI was key, since the amount of data flowing in was quite big and could overwhelm the client if not properly managed. Also designing a clear visualization of the data so that operators can see the status of the whole system at a glance is equally crucial. Both technology and design are needed to create something truly inspiring.

Laptops → Mobile devices

Operators: Previously tied to a workstation, workers can now inspect and control the AGV fleet on the go.

Windows only → Cross-platform

Management: Knowledge of cross-platform development gained at the organization.

A more attractive offering

Business: Modern handheld device support and ease of use is a very attractive feature requested by clients.

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