PGK Distribution is an importer and wholesale distributor of solar photo voltaic panels, inverters and accessories. They sell to installers who install solar systems onto residential and commercial properties.
In Australia, when an eligible solar system is installed, the property owner is entitled to a number of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STC) which are issued by the Federal Government Clean Energy Regulator. Each STC represents one megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity generated during the lifetime of the system. These can be traded on the open market but are usually sold to the installer in return for a discount on the installed system.
PGK is able to register its own STCs but the process was proving to be quite time consuming. Many of PGK Distribution's other installers were not able to register their own STCs due to their size. PGK Distribution saw an opportunity to offer an STC registration and trading solution, whilst reducing its own compliance costs.
The system consists of a Web Portal and iPhone App. Each installation company has an installer administrator and one or more installers. The Installer administrator can access the web portal and create jobs whilst the installers process those jobs on the iPhone app.
Once a job is fully processed, the installer administrator submits it to PGK Distribution who review it then submit it to the Clean Energy Regulator. A few weeks later, once the Clean Energy Regulator has approved the certificate, the certificates are assigned to the installer's account where they can cash out or have the amount credited against their trading account.
Each job can be assigned to a specific designer, installer and electrician so the system can be used for job tasking. A designer, installer or electrician can log into the iPhone app and see their entire job queue.
Mobile Data Availability
Many installers work in areas that have poor or non existent mobile coverage. The iPhone app was designed to work offline and only syncronise with the server when requested to. This usually occurs at the start and end of each shift.
The project was managed using an agile process called scrum. Scrum is a magaement process that is categorised by small, bite sized iteration called "sprints". Each sprint has a fixed duration and scope. At the end of each sprint, work is reviewed and the next sprint planned. When this review is combined with client feedback on the in-work system we can create systems that better fit client needs. For this projects we had five sprints.
- Web portal, shell, logon and user management
- Web portal job processing
- iPhone application shell, logon and job retrieval
- iPhone application job processing
- System acceptance, deployment and app publishing
After each sprint the client was able review the in-work system on a "sandbox" server.
When the system went live, it was initially deployed to a small pilot group in order to test and refine the new business processes. When this refinement process was completed, the system was rolled out to a broader user base.
The web portal was developed on a standard Linux, Apache, mySQL, PHP (LAMP) platform using the yii framework. yii was selected because it is secure, extensible, fast to code and has strong community support. The User Interface was built using HTML5, CSS3, Bootstrap, jQuery, jQueryUI, Font Awesome Icons and a few minor libraries.
The iPhone App is a native iPhone app built in XCode and written in Objective C.