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System Architect, Delft, The Netherlands
How long have you been working at TBA?
Describe your role in one sentence
I make sure that the architectural changes that we make fit in with the goals of TBA as a company and together with the other two architects we make sure that our software developers have all the knowledge they need to build the our Equipment Control System (ECS) and Scheduling software.
What do you do on an average working day?
I talk a lot with colleagues about how new features fit in our software. For this I make guidelines, descriptions and architectural pictures. Every now and then I also try something myself to get a feeling about what a promising technology is capable of.
Heiko Harders - TBA Group System Architect
How did you get into your career?
I have a MSc in Artificial Intelligence (AI) but I also had a strong interest in computer games. So, after university I first worked at a game development studio. This was a fun time, but it turned out that it did not quite fit my personal goals any longer. I ended up at TBA because a friend was already working here, and he told me they were looking for Java developers. One week after I started, I got assigned a new project at TBA, which was the scheduling software. So, I designed and implemented a large part of that and when more people started working on it, I became the team lead for it. Recently I am focussed more on an architectural role and I have been promoted to System Architect.
Have you been promoted since you joined TBA?
Yes, from Junior Developer to Lead Developer and now System Architect.
Since joining TBA, what’s been your proudest professional achievement?
The thrill of the first time running our scheduling solution in a live test on a terminal after having worked on the implementation for several years. This was quite a big deal, contrary to the implementation of our Equipment Control System, we had to test this on a terminal that was already up and running (instead of gradually testing and solving all integration problems). Any delays on a container terminal cost a lot of money so failing would mean a big set-back for the customer and it would make us look bad. Seeing 100+ automated vehicles (about 70 Automated Guided Vehicles and nearly as much Automated Stacking Cranes) executing the jobs that our Scheduler orchestrated was a huge thing.
What do you enjoy most about your role at TBA?
We are an easy-going company with very flat structure, so you can simply talk with everybody if you have a question or a good idea. Also working together with a relatively young team of highly motivated and very smart colleagues is great.
How does the work you do at TBA differ to previous roles you’ve had?
I do not have too much things to compare too, but I enjoy the mix of professionality and openness.
Finally, what’s the best thing you like about working at TBA?
Being able to come up with solutions for a very complex and highly demanding industry. Always challenging ourselves to improve our product. Where in the world can you write software that drives a fleet of truck sized robots and automated cranes that are several stories high, with a customer expecting the system to be up and running 99.9% of the time?