After 6 and a half years of intense work, 6.506 Jira tickets resolved and a variety of technical challenges encountered and overcome, the active development on the Twinca project has come to an end.
We see this project as a fruitful collaboration on both sides, Wirtek gaining a big client and Twinca getting a professional team to support their growth and expansion. The initial application, even before it got further developed by Wirtek, had a market presence growth from a couple of farms using it to about 100 farms at its peak, not only from Denmark but also from Sweden, Poland, Finland, Holland, Ukraine, Canada and even Greece.
The starting point of the Twinca project was the farmers’ need to having more precise control over the amount of food that the animals are fed. This need for innovation materialized itself into the solution of having a user-friendly interface for the food pump attached to the feed cart used by the workers.
As time passed and this basic proof of concept proved itself to be successful, the opportunity of development was more and more obvious to us all. Why not use innovation to help farmers with other daily routines, making their life easier and the process more efficient? This is how Twinca, as a software product, was born.
TWINCA A/S is a Danish manufacturer of quality feeding machines and very precise feeding computers that support the fur industry. By using new technologies Twinca continuously used to set a higher standard for the next generation of products.
Challenges, solution, and execution
There were several challenges over the course of the process, starting with the fact that minks, while small, are also extremely particular animals. They require precise amounts of food in order for their fur to have the best quality and careful placement, as they exhibit aggressive behavior towards each other.
The process consists of the mink farm feed carts, each having food tanks attached to them, driving through the farm, and feeding the minks on-the-go. More precisely, this is done by a food pump that takes the food out of the tanks and delivers it through tubes onto the mink cages.
To implement the process, usually, one farm would have a single PC, where the Twinca desktop app (backend-server) is installed, and several mobile devices that would be attached to the feed carts to control the precise feed portion for each cage and act as a user interface.
These are the frameworks, and software that the Twinca application is built on: .NET Windows forms application that also acts as a backend for the clients (Android-powered rugged tablets/phones PDAs with Windows CE).
Usually, one farm would have a single PC where Twinca desktop app (backend-server) is installed and several mobile devices that would be attached to the feed carts and act as an interface.
From a technical perspective, the challenges were:
- Developing a data synchronization module that will bring all the data collected from the clients to the backend, and vice versa. Information like feeding logs, amount fed, marking the minks to a certain group which has different food amounts depending on multiple factors, registration of new-born minks, etc. In short, all the tables that contained modifications were compared row by row, and the newest modification was mentioned in the database.
- Developing a feeding algorithm that had many variables on how it should be done: in a normal/reverse sequence, feeding just even/odd cages, feeding in routes (custom sequence of cages chosen by the farmer), additional in-food treatments or supplements. This must be done in a very time-sensitive manner, as the feed carts drive through the farm.
- Developing a Bluetooth feeding module: initially, the tablets and PDAs were physically attached to the feeding machine during the feeding process. As time passed this was proven not to be the best solution due to the communication cables that would become loose easily from the extensive wear (feed carts vibrating mainly). We brainstormed over a new solution and came to the conclusion that the communication between the feeding machine and the farmer should be done through Bluetooth connection. So no more cables needed!
- The PDAs running Windows CE were becoming obsolete both in hardware and software. As farms grew in size the hardware would limit performance in use and the software would limit new features from being implemented. As a solution, we switched to using Android, a newer platform in active development, which for the Wirtek team meant having access to extra software support.
What does the client say about us
Jens Ole Mortensen, Twinca IT Manager, is a man who values transparency and communication above all. Once the team had won his trust with their solid know-how and the on-the-spot solutions, he always listened to them with only one condition: “Don’t give me nonsense!”.
We are very proud to have created a real partnership with our client, Twinca, and we’ve formed more than just a working relationship with them. Here’s what they’re saying about us.
“We have cooperated with Wirtek since 2012 and see Wirtek as a serious business partner that is flexible and reliable. We have experienced a high level of innovative, professional and dedicated developers and testers in our team. They are working on different platforms with high demanding features on performance and usability, with very good results. It was surprisingly easy to migrate our development from the previous supplier to Wirtek because the team had a very good understanding of functionality and workflow. We have good collaboration with the team in everyday life and it feels like we are all part of the same team and company. We give the very best recommendation of Wirtek.”
The global production of mink fur shows a dramatic drop over the last 2 years, according to Kopenhagen Fur, one of the world’s largest fur auction houses, the world production of mink plummeted from approximately 72 million minks in 2015 to around 52 million this year.
As this was a project that stretched over the course of 6.5 years, the team at Wirtek is still offering on-going support for the project, about 2-4 hours every week, responding to the client’s needs.
To find out how you can unlock the benefit of a nearshoring collaboration, drop us a message at email@example.com or call us at +45 72146660!