Universal Configuration Software for Carlo Gavazzi Electricity Meters

We built a hybrid desktop app which can communicate with meters’ hardware via Modbus and runs on web technologies. This software is running on 100k+ instruments installed around the world. It’s called Universal Configuration Software.

The request from Carlo Gavazzi

Creating a platform for the configuration of electrical meters, easily expandable to more devices and compatible with all the major desktop operating systems (Windows, OSX, Linux).

Carlo Gavazzi Controls asked us to realize a platform to set up, view and record data from their sensors. The whole experience needed to be visually shared on every platform.

Belka has been a perfect partner for the design and software development. We let them decide for the best technology and this has been game-changing in terms of independence and reliability.

We kept working without worrying about software because thanks to their autonomy and frequent communication we completed our business objectives in time and with a quality product, perfectly matching our requests.

Alessio Costantini
Project Manager, Carlo Gavazzi Controls

Our solution

We started with the analysis of the problem: how could we build software that can communicate with external hardware on different OSs? We considered every choice and we decided to build a hybrid desktop app.

Why not Java? We didn’t want to be dependent on the JVM which could be installed or missing from the users’ machine and usually comes in different versions. Nobody likes updating Java. We couldn’t risk strange behaviors caused by an outdated JVM: this solution let us develop a stand-alone product.
Moreover, the visual aspect of web apps is far more customizable and, let’s say it, way better than the standard Java UI, giving an overall better User Experience.

Universal Configuration Software is built on top of the open source version of Google Chrome. Such application stack is used by some companies like Spotify, Steam, AVG, Evernote, Slack, Atom. Simplifying: it’s a browser instance which lives inside the application and can communicate with the hardware with a layer between Javascript and C++.

UCS Universal Configuration Software Carlo Gavazzi

It’s a modern technical choice and we have been enthusiastic to work on such bleeding-edge technology. We faced some technical challenges but – in the end – the product is not limited by the technical choice. In terms of performance and quality, Universal Configuration Software is not like smartphone hybrid apps which still have big limitations. It’s a powerful tool that is smooth and fast as native applications. In fact, we reused this technology for a project with Red Bull with great satisfaction!

The web application choice allowed us to use a well-defined, unique visual language, shared between the different operative systems and immediately understandable to the users. We tested the interaction with the final users, this improved the usability of the interface and gave us a great insight of the user’s need.

UCS Universal Configuration Software Carlo Gavazzi

The biggest design challenge has been the context of Universal Configuration Software. The common user won’t look for the easiest interaction but they want the best efficiency and rapidity. We designed the app following this paradigm, looking for clarity and efficiency. The users pointed out during the user testing!

The future of UCS Universal Configuration Software

We are now extending the same visual identity to other tools of the same company. We plan to deliver a similar user experience and a faster and easier interaction. Universal Configuration Software has become the new golden standard for Carlo Gavazzi’s user experience.

Category

  • Hybrid App
  • Internet of Things
  • UI/UX Design
  • User Testing

Technologies

  • React.js
  • Backbone.js
  • Chromium Embedded Framework
  • Modbus

Supported meters

  • WM50-BCM
  • WM40-96
  • WM30-96
  • WM20-96
  • EM300 series
  • ET300 series
  • EM100 series
  • ET100 series
  • EM200 series
  • EM26-96
  • EM24-96
  • VMU-MC
  • SIU-MBM