The Hartmann Group is an independent shipping company and a family business. The organization is active worldwide, with around 150 cargo ships and approximately 5000 employees. Their jobs are highly specialized, so much so that the largest part of the business operation is dependent on a custom application. Crewing and payroll are particularly challenging business activities for which Hartmann developed its own application 19 years ago, based on an SQL Server backend and an Access front end. As time passed, maintaining this application had become extremely complex. In order to switch from just maintaining the software to improving it, the company decided to look for an alternative.
“We looked for a platform that provided the technological foundation to be able to implement business processes with high efficiency,” says Markus Schmitz, Managing Director of Hartmann Global IT. “Some low-code platforms do offer efficiency, but the majority of them are too limited to support more complex business logic. Thinkwise turned out to be the perfect match for us, because it fully supports more complex logic and our extensive core systems. For example, Thinkwise does not force you to draw logic in diagrams. You can just write it as code in an SQL database.”
Mobile crewing app
The cooperation started with a Proof of Concept, during which the Thinkwise team built a convincing modernization of a mobile crewing application using the Thinkwise Upcycler, a tool used for modernizing legacy applications. After the Proof of Concept, a load-test was successfully carried out to see whether the application was scalable up to approximately 5000 users.
Schmitz: “Thinkwise was the only low-code party able and willing to do a proof of concept at short notice and with a reasonable amount of effort. This is an important reason why we have chosen them.”
Hartman Global IT wanted to modernize the software as much as possible with its own staff using the Thinkwise Platform. After a training given by Thinkwise, the team could quickly get started and count on regular support from Thinkwise experts. They then developed a mobile crewing application for ship crew members in around six months. Not only did this cover an immediate business need, but also enabled them to learn and master the Thinkwise Platform.
“Developing this app so quickly, for Android and iPhone, including all rights, would be impossible using traditional technology,” says Schmitz. “We would have had to spend the first four months learning the technology before we could write one line of code. With the Thinkwise Platform our developers could now get started much faster, and they could work with well-known tools and write business logic at a database level. And the longer we work with the platform, the more efficient it becomes in terms of development.”
The next phase
The Hartmann mobile crewing application has recently been successfully launched and is now being used by around 5000 crew members worldwide. The development team’s focus has now switched to the foundation for everything: the Crew Management System. Modernizing this core application is obviously a considerably larger project, but Schmitz also expects to complete this in 2021.
Schmitz: “This certainly is a very comprehensive project. But just as with painting your house, it’s all about preparation. You have to know where you want to go, select the right platform and the right partner, and prepare the project well. Only then can you smoothly achieve a successful result.”.
“We are proud that a fantastic international company like Hartmann has made the strategic choice for Thinkwise,” says Victor Klaren, Thinkwise director. “They understand the power of our platform and make full use of the efficiency and flexibility that it offers to optimize their business operations.”
Schmitz expects that the development of the business applications will be a continuous process: “We have numerous plans for further optimization. We also want to implement Thinkwise locally on every ship to work more efficiently at sea, making best use of the limited internet speed available on a satellite connection. The crew members will be able to update their working hours, consult their planning and receive pay slips at a glance. And there are many more challenges for the future. But with Thinkwise we have a partner with whom we can make that a success.”
The successful deployment of low-code by Hartmann has not gone unnoticed. Various news outlets such as Internet-of-Things.de, Mittelstandswiki, Fachmagazin IM+io and B2B magazine Schiff&Hafen published about Hartmann and their drive for innovation.
The Hartmann Group is an independent, family-owned shipping company, operating worldwide. The business is based on several foundations: ship owning, full technical and commercial ship management, as well as crewing and training of seafarers. All in all, the companies of the group employ more than 5,000 employees and operate a fleet of about 150 vessels ― Gas Carriers, Product Tankers, Bulk Carriers, Pneumatic Cement Carriers, Container Ships and Multi-purpose Vessels. Dedicated technical, commercial and crewing management teams each focus on the Hartmann Group’s core markets, thus ensuring expert knowledge and consistently high-quality standards for our customers in the individual segments. More information: www.hartmann-ag.com