A PAL for instore production of fresh food

With so many products in our stores, logistics can become complex. Especially with fresh products that are made in-store, like sandwiches and croissants. To help our colleagues in the supermarkets, the PAL system was created. PAL is a collection of applications for both the stores and departments in our head office. 

The right fresh products, right on time

One of the applications is the Product Advice List app. It is powered by an algorithm that looks at several data sources, like the cash registers’ history.  The app shows each store the amounts of fresh products to produce, the ingredients needed, and when to have them ready. So, customers will find their favorite items when they visit their Jumbo Supermarket during lunch break or after work. In addition, it shows complementary goods to include in future restocking orders, such as baking paper.  

From the end-users’ perspective the app works simple enough: they walk around the store with an iPad in hand. Through a set of tiles on a webpage, they select the tools and access the information they need. But – as usual – the backend is where the real magic happens. 

Belgium is in the cloud

One of the specialists working on the PAL software is Maarten Weijer, SAP developer at Jumbo Tech Campus. He worked on a new PAL version for the Belgian Supermarkets. Maarten: “PAL runs on SAP. In the Netherlands, we still use an older version of SAP, whereas in Belgium, they have the newest version, which is cloud based. That means only the core runs on our physical servers. All additional functionality is created and run in the cloud. I quite like that; it helps keep our systems clean and compact and it makes updating easier and safer.” An improvement that fits neatly into an important philosophy @ Jumbo Tech Campus: ‘Keep the core clean.” 

New system, New challenges

The new SAP system also had Maarten and his colleagues do what countless other SAP experts did when it was introduced: update their knowledge and do quite a bit of research. Maarten: “We needed to find out how things we knew how to do before, had to be implemented in the new version. Especially functionalities like authorization and authentication took some time to figure out and to get working properly. Even the SAP people themselves sometimes had to do some digging to find out how to get it done. But we got there and it’s working great now.” Along the way, Maarten and his colleagues also learned more about Javascript and Github, both essential when working with SAP nowadays. 

Full stack

“We take care of both front- and backend. We strive to have SAP developers work Full Stack as much as possible.” Maarten explains. “It’s fun to do, it makes our jobs more dynamic. You have more control and say of the result and functionality. It also helps you grow as a developer, because it keeps you on your toes, and you learn a lot from working with all kinds of new technologies on both ends of the applications.”

A background in housing and Java

Before Jumbo, Maarten was a system administrator at a housing corporation. Maarten: “But I always wanted to become a developer. I was trained as a Java programmer, and I worked for Jumbo as an external SAP programmer. After a few years, there was an opening for an SAP developer. I applied and got the job.” He loves his new workplace: “It’s a very dynamic environment. There are so many active projects, so many innovations that make our work interesting. We could employ at least three additional departments easily. If there ever was a great time to apply for an IT job at Jumbo Tech Campus, this is it.”

Are you curious for the career opportunities at our Tech Campus? Check out our open vacancies