Part five: Peter van Leeuwen – Software Developer
Peter started at Vanenburg during his high school education. After his first internship, he discovered that working in a company was way better than being at school. After that, Peter switched to part-time education and on the 1st of September 2017, he officially became a Vanenburg employee. After 2 more years, he graduated in Embedded Software Engineering and started working full time.
Peter lives in Ede, with the love of his life, Carolien. Last year, they married and are living happily together. Some days, she also works in Putten which means they can drive to work together.
Profile Peter van Leeuwen:
Educational background: Embedded Software Engineering @ Hogeschool Arnhem Nijmegen (HAN)
Previous working experience:
After graduation, Peter joined the Vanenburg team as Software Developer
What do you do on a daily basis at Vanenburg?
I am developing software in Java for various projects. Now and then I am also doing some projects where the Thinkwise platform comes to use. I just finished my work for our customer Verhoek Europe in March so that gives me time to focus more on other projects. Until March I was also developing software using Thinkwise for Verhoek Europe.
However, after 1,5 years of low-code development I liked hardcore development in Java more, so that was the reason for me to go back to Java development. A new internal project (more about that later) also gives me a good reason to focus more on my Google Cloud training, so I am also spending at least 1 day a week on that.
You had your internship at Vanenburg as well. What was that like?
It was a great internship. In 2016 I had to do an internship for about 5 months. My internship counsellor was Hans Don, our CTO, who also proposed the internship to me. We called it The Cucumber Project because the main focus was on making an application to measure the growth of cucumbers. It was really interesting and I learned a lot.
I bought a Raspberry Pi and a camera, and we wrote a small python script that did the visual analysis. The script was executed by a kind of a low-code platform called Atomiton, which had the attention of Vanenburg back then. I am looking back on it as a nice project and during that internship, I realized that I enjoyed working in a company way more than being at school.
Which projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on about 4 projects. On Mondays, I work for our customers eparts.shop and Bax Metaal. These are mainly support tasks in which I solve the issues reported by the customers and keep them up and running. Then I am working 2 days per week for Omoda and 2 days per week on a new internal project, which is developing a shop floor management solution. These projects are my main focus currently.
What is a shop floor management solution?
A shop floor management solution is a solution that streamlines the processes on the work floor.
First of all, it’s helpful to explain that the ERP is the overarching business solution to manage the inventory, work orders, purchasing and work order preparation. Once the production order is released for execution, the material availability is checked and the production process can start on the shop floor. Users also need to book the hours on such an order. The orders come through the ERP into the shop floor application and go through different machines on the shop floor. Each machine has its own operation and the relevant information for that machine is shown in the shop floor application. In fact, it is an application on the shop floor. It stands in the architecture layer between ERP and PLC/SCADA and focuses on controlling the production process itself.
There is also the logistical module of the shop floor solution. This streamlines the logistical movements on the shop floor. It happens very often that a product is finished at machine 1 and is ready for machine 2. Due to a lack of communication, a product can remain stuck for an unnecessarily long time, which impedes effectiveness and productivity on the work floor.
Can you share a little bit more about Omoda, one of your other projects?
Omoda is a retailer that sells shoes and clothing. They are very well known here in the Netherlands and have a clear vision of how they want to develop in the coming years. For Omoda we are developing a completely new warehouse management system (WMS), which will replace their current legacy environment. The current system is old and the maintenance is becoming difficult which is the reason for them to switch to newer technologies.
With Vanenburg we develop the core of the WMS on the Thinkwise platform. Specific business logic is developed in separate applications that connect with the WMS. These are called satellite applications. I am working on these satellite applications. An example of one of these applications is the allocation of goods. When goods arrive at Omoda, they have to be allocated to the stores and the central warehouse. This is done based on rules which they have defined. An easy example is: “no male shoes to the lady shop”.
There are a lot of these rules and my job is to develop this in a maintainable and uncluttered way. Once per two weeks, we drive with the Vanenburg team to Zierikzee, which is a two-hour drive. Usually, we carpool so that makes the travel nicer.
Can you also share a little bit more about Verhoek Europe?
Verhoek Europe is a transport company. They have 450 vehicles and deliver across all of Europe. As I said, I just finished my activities for Verhoek Europe just over two weeks ago (01-04-2022). I have enjoyed the project very much. It was a nice team to work with and I learned a lot. The company is very pragmatic, which I really like and we just went live before I left. Verhoek Europe is doing everything in Thinkwise.
An example of one of my tasks is related to Brexit from January 2021. Verhoek Europe has a lot of deliveries to the UK, they send goods via ferries or via the train through the Eurotunnel. When Brexit came, they were required to do a lot of extra paperwork. Fortunately, the ferries and Eurotunnel provided APIs to automate the process.
My job was to connect to these APIs; I had to create bookings and add customs info to these bookings so that when the truck arrived at the gate, they could seamlessly proceed. I really liked working on this part and it’s always nice to see that these things help the company a lot.
Do you often work solely on projects or is there a team involved?
Actually, it’s a mix. For eparts and Bax Metaal I am working on my own. For the shopfloor project, we currently have a small team here in NL and I am the only developer for it, but this can increase in the future.
On the other hand, the Omoda team is quite big with around 10 to 15 people working on the project. I like the mix, if I only worked on my own I would miss the collaboration. But only working in big teams would also distract me too much from doing actual development probably.
Looking at the past 5 years, what did you enjoy most about working at Vanenburg?
The first project when I started was eparts.shop and I have always enjoyed that project. eparts.shop is a webshop from South Dakota, US, specialising in spare parts. We were there from the start of the company and we saw it grow from a few orders per day to hundreds of orders per day. I have been the only developer for the project and it was great to think together with the customer and develop the required tools for them.
For example, I developed many integrations to integrate all the selling platforms, like eBay, Amazon, Shopify and Wix all to Salesforce, their central order system. And from Salesforce back to the selling platforms to keep all the inventories in sync.
What is Vanenburg’s culture like in your view?
What I enjoyed most here at Vanenburg is the environment, the people and the freedom you get. We are having fun together and there is always respect for one another. Having joy in my work is for me the most important thing and it makes me like going back to work every day. The culture is not hierarchical, everyone is equal and the managers are down to earth.
Maybe a bit off-topic, but we’ve seen you regularly take the bike to the office, which is 38 km (!) from your home. Are you training for an event or is this a hobby?
Haha, yes that’s right. I usually bring my bike with me on Wednesdays. For me, this is a hobby and a way to have some exercise after a whole day of sitting. It also solves a practical problem. My wife works in Putten on Wednesday mornings, but in the afternoon she moves to another location. So this brings the challenge for me how to get home. I thought my bike would be a perfect solution for this.
PS. When it rains, I ask one of my colleagues who live close by to bring me, haha.
Any future plans or exciting projects coming up?
I am looking forward to actively starting the development of the shop floor application. Our first customer will be Vlastuin Group (a metal construction company) for which the shop floor solution can be of big help. Also, as I mentioned before, I am doing the Google Cloud training for Professional Cloud Developer. I like that training and hope I can do my exam soon to increase my knowledge and skill set.
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