The Short Story
Kollmorgen is a world leader in AGVs, Automated Guided Vehicles. The quality standards for control software are extreme, for reasons of safety and efficiency. Software testing is therefore a cornerstone of the company’s operations. By introducing automated and structured testing, Kollmorgen has been able to substantially reduce time to market – and secure code quality in a better way.
AGVs have a long service life, often in excess of ten years. In a fleet, vehicles of different age continuously co-exist, which means that compatibility and software maintenance are crucial factors. Prior to a new release, extensive testing is an obvious requirement. However, the test engineers are under pressure from two different internal stakeholders: the developers who want to have as much time as possible to finalize the code, and the sales force who are eager to put the product on the market. Two parameters that cannot be compromised are quality and the compatibility checklist.
Kollmorgen chose to build a new software test framework. Together with RT-Labs, the test department built an automated test system based on standard components and open-source code. Compared to alternatives the cost was significantly lower. At a fraction of the cost for an off-the-shelf product, Kollmorgen could set up five test stations instead of one. In addition, the test procedures and the operation could be tailored to Kollmorgen’s technical environment and routines.
Massive time saving is the most obvious result of the automated test concept. There are examples of how five weeks of manual tests were carried out in just 25 minutes. And in addition to the saved time, it is possible to run many more different test set-ups and as many test cycles as desired. All of them fully logged with all parameters documented. The business benefits are two-fold: shorter time to market and a higher level of quality assurance. And, as an end result, satisfied customers and a stronger brand.