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Bugzilla Makes Big Trucks Better

Bugzilla Flavored Applications?

  • October 9, 2006
  • By Rob Reilly

Komatsu, produces a broad range of large mining and construction equipment in its Peoria facilities. The complex manufacturing process cranks out huge machines made up of thousands of parts.

Needless to say, keeping projects and quality on track is an equally monumental job.

Larry Merritt-Gilbert, senior analyst for Komatsu enlisted the help of R Cubed Technologies. R Cubed's President, Nate Rockhold and Corporate Technology Officer, Joe Ryner specialize in building custom Linux-based applications. They also sell a line of lightweight Linux-powered laptops.

Adapting the popular Open Source Bugzilla framework proved a great way to track the Komatsu manufacturing process.

Komatsu needed a flexible web-based system to track quality issues during manufacturing. The company trend is to use web portal type solutions, instead of traditional client/server implementations. Merritt-Gilbert had used Bugzilla in previous projects, when he was at 3Com. He liked the notification features and wanted to be able to rename fields. He also liked that Bugzilla was developed in Perl and MySQL and that it had a template system. With customizing in mind, it was much easier to use Bugzilla than a proprietary solution.

Users also needed to be able to add or change new fields, on-the-fly. Report writing was important, too.

As with any project tracking solution, life cycle was the key. Keeping a history of changes let everybody see bottlenecks and pinpoint areas of improvement.

The project started in September 2004 with Komatsu installing Bugzilla version 2.16. Merritt-Gilbert then mapped out the whole project tracking process and nailed down who could establish new tracking projects. He also specified who could approve work flow tickets and how they were moved through the system. At the same time, Rockhold spent a few weeks familiarizing himself with the Bugzilla code. Collectively user requirements and a handful of mock up interface screens were created.

Collaboration between Komatsu, R Cubed, and users occurred over the phone and via email. Occasional in-person meetings, while sometimes necessary, were minimized because of the 80 mile round trip distance between Komatsu and R Cubed.

Naturally, it made perfect sense to use Bugzilla to track the development effort, as well.

Merritt-Gilbert eventually modified several of the modules to facilitate user updating and adding of fields.

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