From Law Degree to Rapid App Development: How Rik Bos Reduced Maintenance Costs by 30 Percent
In today’s maker profile, we are featuring Rik Bos, developer and technical director at Liftinzicht and RAD consultant at TimeSeries. Hear how he uses Mendix to rapidly develop valuable applications for the business, including a solution that cut maintenance costs by 30 percent.
1. What is your education and professional background? Did you have any prior development experience?
My education is actually in financial law and microeconomics. Even though it is not really IT related, I still see it as relevant because it’s applied mathematics, but I still consider myself a citizen developer. I have always been interested in IT. I was 12 years old when I started working in our family company, Liftinzicht. I started in PHP4 and MySQL, and then began developing in Mendix.
2. How were you introduced to Mendix? What was your initial reaction?
In our family company, I was developing our app, Liftmanager, in PHP, and then found another company who posed the opportunity to merge platforms. They were using Mendix at the time and I was flabbergasted by what the platform was doing for them. In the end, the collaboration didn’t take place, but we still began working with Mendix. We were originally thinking of hiring more people to help us develop our app, but with Mendix we didn’t need to hire anyone new. I could still develop at the speed I wanted without a full development team.
3. What was most helpful learning Mendix?
I am a self-learner. I used the online tutorials, attended the Mendix World 2014 technology tracks, and often hit the F1 key in the modeler to end up in the online documentation.
4. What have you built using the platform? Which app/project are you most proud of?
The first project I built for Liftinzicht was an ERP system to manage accounts, projects and hours of work, including connectivity to our financial software. We were able to build this using Mendix after two other failed implementations. I am very proud that we were able to get this working using Mendix.
I also built the Liftmanager app, a smart app that helps to monitor elevators and enables predictive maintenance with the use of IoT and sensors. The original iteration of the Liftmanager app just took a couple of weeks and included intake from QR codes on the elevators to make it easier for the elevator managers in the field to enter registrations by simply opening their phones.
What I am most proud of is the implementation of IoT and the use of sensors in the elevators to enable predictive maintenance. Prior to the sensors, the standard was to perform four to six maintenance events, per elevator, each year. The use of sensors has enabled Liftmanager to keep up the performance of the elevators, reduce failures, and reduce maintenance costs by 30 percent per year. Anyone can build a registration tool, but to have IoT connectivity is much more complex. I am very proud of this solution and the business value it brings.
At TimeSeries, I worked on several other Mendix apps, one was a cool smartphone app that needed a native design because it was consumer facing. I made that work on Android and iOS and shared some insights during a Mendix Meetup in Rotterdam.
Today, I work on a high-performance price aggregation platform for Expereo, a Global Internet Service Provider. Their main goal is to deliver Internet all over the world and sell software to make the Internet work better. Nowadays we integrate with 25-30 different APIs to get the right price. Expereo promises their customers to give back the best price for any location within two minutes. A couple of months ago we handled around 500 price requests per day and now we calculate up to 10,000. I’m really proud of how we manage this big growth and the usage of the app while we were already running in production.
5. Have you had any “aha moments” using Mendix?
The entire platform, and the way it works and how it handles data security is just amazing. The easy way in which you can generate mobile apps and the easy integration with mobile is incredible.
6. What advice would you give to other Mendix developers?
Get your hands dirty and explore. Developing using Mendix is so much faster, and you can easily create a sandbox project to test your ideas and to learn new features. I used to have many questions about what was possible and what would work and I answered them by playing around in the platform.
7. How has Mendix made your life easier/better?
It started with the speed of development. I developed Liftmanager on my own, and we used to have the challenge of getting up to speed with a single developer, and instead of upscaling with people, we switched to Mendix which saved us the hassle of hiring a team, especially in our small 20 employee company. And on the other hand, we were still able to develop at the speed that we needed. I am now also working as a consultant for the Smart App Company TimeSeries, a Mendix partner, and my experience with Mendix has made this position possible for me.
8. How would you describe Mendix in your own words?
A tool to easily create great business apps.
9. What are your interests/hobbies outside of work?
I like to sail, listen to Pink Floyd in my car, and playing a Dutch sport called survival running, which is a form of obstacle course running.