The Indevin Bulls-i System


Indevin are a New Zealand Contract Wine Processing Facility in Blenheim New Zealand.

In February 2008 I was approached by Indevin to write a simple interface between their (then) current Wine making system Vinsight and the scales that weighed in the fruit during vintage. The bottom line was they had been let down by the contractor who was going to to do this and at the last minute and vintage was 3 weeks away.

The job was a very simple one really, simply analysing the output of a serial industrial scale and capturing the information into an access table for Vinsight to read, needless to say it took only a few days to analyse the very simple serial output, knock up a simple touchscreen program to capture the weight and the correct load references and write it to a table.

And that was the last I thought about it for a couple of months, the system worked like a charm, but unfortunately for Indevin at the time it coincided with about a 100% growth from the previous year and they found there wine making software which was already creaking under the seams, just could not cope with the number of users and more importantly segregating the various clients.

Two months later I was called into a meeting, during which they analysed all the failures of the various systems and the big stand-out one was the inability of the wine making software to cope with the companies requirements, at that meeting somebody asked me if I could write some more appropriate software and I uttered the never to be forgot 4 words that put me on the road to my biggest project.. “A Piece of Piss!”

Nine Months later, bulls-i version 1 was released to do vintage 2009. Since that date Indevin have been constantly changing the system, the versions and even the name as they have grown in size and complexity until we are now at version 6 and regarded by a lot of people as possibly the best wine making system out there.

The System

The heart of Bulls-i is a MySQL 5.5 database that underpins several stand-alone programs: a desktop program for the companies wine making, laboratory and office staff, a touchscreen program for cellar hands and other workers in the winery and a SCADA interface which controls all SCADA HMI functions and allows winemakers to read and set tank temperatures directly from the desktop (as well as providing a raft of other helpful features that integration brings) rather than using the cumbersome and separate Wonder ware or Adroit HMI systems. I will be working on the fourth mobile system soon after vintage 2014.

These three programs are all written in Delphi XE2 and compiled into a single Windows 32 executable without any external library dependencies. During vintage we average 70 database open sessions, that is every single person with a computer who can run multiple sessions in a full transaction safe environment. and a dozen active touchscreens and the system is barely ticking over.

bulls-i winemaking

The big selling point of the system for Indevin it it completely isolates each client into their own system and makes it almost impossible to issue jobs to do this through very strict controls. Other features include full drag-drop harvester and Receival Planning, Integration of OHS and ISO Requirements and ability to import and export between other sites and other companies. The touchscreens are all RFID and bar-code aware to improve accuracy and during vintage have a variety of specialist cellar screens to allow improved data capture and visibility to cellar staff.

The system has survived several Windows OS, Database and Server upgrades without incident and has had a raft of external reporting, ODBC, .NET, web and other programs bolted on by third parties (even a soft flap display for displaying current tonnes received in the staff canteen!) , and it is the full openness of the system and database schema make that possible and for Indevin to feel confident  the system can accommodate any future task.

As Indevin don’t have licencing charges the system also made it possible to take over and start operating the Montana Gisborne Winery (makers of NZ Famous Lindauer Wines) at almost no cost compared to a commercial system.

Several people have asked about Bulls-i as an option for their winery, but it is unfortunately not open source and quite proprietary to Indevin and its business model, however it has been licenced and is used by several of their clients and you should contact them directly if interested.

With Indevins approval I may at sometime in the future re-write the whole system from the ground up and minus some of the Indevin specific parts as an open source, Linux and Mac Friendly system, though I certainly do not have any plans to do this until I get quiet.