Case Study

Multi-tier hierarchical Site Security System

About Customer

Strata Solar is a leading provider of utility-scale, commercial, and industrial solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The company’s integrated approach, which includes development, financing, engineering, procurement, construction, operations, and maintenance, allows Strata to consistently build quality projects while continuously driving down costs. Strata was recently ranked as one of the largest utility-scale solar PV integrators in the U.S. Strata Solar was founded in 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and today operates multiple facilities with over 300 employees nationwide. For more information, please visit www.stratasolar.com.

Application Requirements

Strata Solar had a serious problem to effectively manage multiple construction sites across different places. One of the major difficulties was to figure out a system-based, centralized access control for the sites, and to automate access of legible contractors or employees to the sites.

Additionally, deploying stand-alone systems at each site wasn’t helping them with flexibility as contractors were working on more than one site and monitoring their access, time-keeping and reporting were cumbersome. The existing system they used wasn’t having mobility advantage which was a big bottleneck.

The Business Case Challenge

The project requirements encompassed employee badge printing, onboarding of contractors, defining their contract duration, access control, time-keeping, reporting of daily/weekly/monthly work hours, end-to-end workflow of time card and their approvals for payroll etc. Specific requirement was to build the system in a multi-tier, hierarchical way by which management and control of the system is made possible.

So that multiple clients/companies can be added, and any number of construction sites can be added under a company, and employees or contractors/workers can be added to one / multiple construction sites. Badges should be enabled for respective sites where the worker should have access to, clients can delete and manage access of workers, timekeeping should be automated by punching systems which is mobile-enabled.

Because the construction sites may have poor internet connectivity, one of the major requirements was to have offline ability of mobile based devices that control site access, to work seamlessly in both offline as well as online-modes.

Blue Summit’s Solution

Blue Summit’s flagship product “BSTApps” was already a widely used site security system for several construction sites in The US and UK. However, the product required to have a multi-tier architecture where 3 different level of hierarchy of users and site management would be made possible. Especially a construction company may have multiple clients and each of them may have multiple construction sites. This specific business case of Strata Solar presented the typical need of a large construction company, where several thousand workers report to different construction sites every day.

In order to build the multi-layered user’s architecture, project team onboarded mobile app specialists, web-based cloud application developers, database specialists, QA specialists into the project team. A Solution Architect was also onboarded.

The web back-end developers listed out the APIs, and built a custom set of web API libraries layer to overcome the connectivity challenge in synchronizing the front-end mobile apps and between the web back-end. The custom portal utilized it’s Angular front-end, and team included several 3rd party libraries that do different business functions. The major hurdle of ensuring performance and high security because of exposure of several APIs are taken care of by utilizing standard libraries and modularizing the architecture. High availability and scalability are ensured using Tier-4 Cloud deployment and taking in use some of the most advanced deployment features available in cloud infrastructure. Security challenges are distinctly different for iOS, Android and web sub systems and are thoroughly grilled to support the platform required security measures.

There are several new features on top of existing BSTApp product which got implemented. Team worked with 3rd party providers to integrate their libraries / APIs to perform specific business functions. Database redesign involved performance requirements to address more than 10000 users across different sites and companies.

The solution also required to query and fetch information back and forth and then distribute the information across sub-systems to deliver as per customer device or application front-end. This had its intrinsic challenge to maintain data structure and processing overhead. To build the seamless interworking, architecture and design was visualized considering the max no of concurrent users, database handling capabilities well before the product platform construction phase. Thereby eliminating any processing or memory bottlenecks during the implementation phases.

Result

The project met all of its objectives, achieving all 3 major goals within timeline and without any discomfort of a typical migration project. The first major goal was to roll out the new multi-layered hierarchical design solution, without disturbing the normal work-flow. This was important because every day there were thousands of workers across multiple construction sites where existing BST Apps was in use. The second goal was to enable business-critical functionalities within the custom-built web portal and mobile apps. We achieved it by a seamless integration and interworking with several leading 3rd parties. The 3rd goal was to provide intuitive dashboard and summary data insights, reports.

The project was executed over 6 months, resulting in a fully functional integrated custom web portal, interworking with mobile applications. Additional functionalities via integration of 3rd parties, an integrated dashboard and useful reports that are required for payroll processing. Strata Solar is able to save thousands of dollars every month because of less number of manual monitoring, review of time cards and payroll processing effort.

At a Glance

Customer: Strata Solar, North Carolina

Website: www.stratasolar.com

Strata Solar is a leading provider of utility-scale, commercial, and industrial solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The company’s integrated approach, which includes development, financing, engineering, procurement, construction, operations, and maintenance, allows Strata to consistently build quality projects while continuously driving down costs. Strata was recently ranked as one of the largest utility-scale solar PV integrators in the U.S.

Strata Solar was founded in 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and today operates multiple facilities with over 300 employees nationwide. For more information, please visit www.stratasolar.com.

Blue Summit, with the help of its dedicated web application development team, iOS and Android app development team, and QA specialists, upgraded the BST Apps product to cater to large sized EPC and construction companies. The solution ensured seamless handling of more than 10,000 workers equipped with timekeeping, reporting, user management and site access, site security features.

Industry

EPC

Construction

Workforce Solutions

Key Results

A fully functional integrated custom web portal, and mobile apps that helped the customer to effortlessly manage employees, contractors and workers across different sites. Additional functionalities via integration of 3rd parties, an integrated dashboard and reports are supported. Strata Solar is able to save thousands of dollars every month as well as benefitted with a set of new functionalities and integrations that were not possible earlier while using traditional time-keeping and access control systems. With an upgraded BSTApps product, Strata Solar is able to effectively manage more than 10,000 users working across several sites for their punch-in/punch-out timekeeping, timecards for payroll, automated approval process etc. And all of this supporting mobility, meaning all users can perform tasks via mobile apps or web or punching systems or even kiosks.

Technologies Used

  • Design: Bootstrap Responsive Design
  • OS: Linux, Android, iOS
  • Languages: Java Script, Angular, PHP, REST APIs
  • Database: SQL, MySQL, SQLite
  • Deployment: AWS

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