IBM Offers Advanced Early Warning for Automotive Industry

IBM Offers Advanced Early Warning for Automotive Industry

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DETROIT, MI - 30 Aug 2005: IBM today at AutoTech 2005 unveiled a new automotive industry business solution which allows automakers and fleet owners to collect and analyze large quantities of data about their vehicles, from a variety of sources, to improve the identification of trends, better manage warranty coverage and help them adhere to government regulations.

With warranty claims costing the automotive industry in the United States nearly $14 billion per year, manufacturers are looking for solutions that drive cost reduction while simultaneously improving customer service and product quality. Also, vital to the industry is cutting down the time it takes to process a warranty claim from problem identification to resolution. According to an IBM analysis, if automotive manufacturers were able to take 10 days off the resolution cycle for warranty claims they could reduce the number of overall claims by 5 percent.

As part of its continuing commitment to assist customers in transforming warranty processes, IBM has developed the IBM Quality Insight Solution for automotive. Leveraging patented data management, predictive mining, and analysis technologies created by IBM researchers, the solution can deliver valuable insight into vehicle operations to address problems emerging in the field, create alerts and develop processes for problem escalation. The IBM solution is based on open computing standards which ease the integration of structured and unstructured data while enabling interoperability between existing systems.

"Warranty claims, maintenance records, call center logs, repair requests, online chat rooms and blogs present an untapped source of useful information for automakers," said Jan Beauchamp, General Manager, Global Automotive Industry IBM. "Quality Insight provides the opportunity to harness that information to detect problems -- and head them off -- much sooner than we are able to today."

For the past 18 months IBM Research has been developing and testing this groundbreaking technology with the help of International Truck and Engine Corporation, a leading manufacturer of commercial trucks, mid-range diesel engines and school buses. IBM's First-of-a-Kind program brings IBM research scientists and industry leaders together to apply innovative technologies to solve real-world challenges.

"Sharing of the open standards developed by IBM to integrate the deluge of data received from a variety of sources on quality issues is an important development for our industry," said Terry Stewart, International Truck and Engine Corporation. "Our work with IBM to assist in developing this unified approach to quality insight has unveiled a number of interesting results."

The IBM Quality Insight for Automotive offering makes use of IBM WebSphere Information Integrator OmniFind Edition and the Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA), an IBM technology designed to support a new breed of software applications that can process text within documents and other, unstructured content sources to understand the latent meaning, relationship and relevant facts buried within. Through the use of open standards, automakers and fleet owners can build common dictionaries, tools and frameworks that allow all parts of their "information supply chain," including their dealer networks and suppliers, to integrate their vast collections of information. IBM is committed to using open standards to enable quality management and processes end-to-end. IBM is a member of the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) and a core member of the Early Warning Standards group within the AIAG. Mr. Stewart also serves on the AIAG Early Warning Standards group on behalf of International Truck and Engine Corporation.

Currently, information about vehicles and fleets is gathered in various forms and not put into a central repository for further analysis. Today, this information must be searched manually. Quality Insight will enable databases to be searchable, bringing together information from a variety of sources that was not possible before.

The IBM Quality Insight solution also has built-in intelligence which develops a "dictionary" of terms that will help the system zero in on specific issues. According to an IBM analysis, 80 percent of the data being processed is text-based. Standardization and categorization of this information could greatly speed up problem identification and resolution.

By tying the solution to existing databases, automakers and fleet owners will be better able to predict performance of their vehicles or fleets. Detecting trends for which parts are most likely to fail given the expected wear and tear on a particular vehicle model can make it possible to head off unexpected problems, and may lead to fewer visits to the repair shop. Available through IBM Business Consulting Services, the solution is developed using IBM Information Management technologies including DB2 Content Manager, DB2 Data Warehouse Edition, coupled with WebSphere Portal middleware. The solution can be deployed across a number of platforms, supporting a wide choice for integration into today's environments, including Linux® and the IBM eServer BladeCenter®. Technologies from ClearForest and SAS® Business Intelligence Solutions also play a vital role in enabling the analysis of terabytes of data quickly.

SAS® Business Intelligence Solutions include SAS® Warranty Analysis, which integrates warranty data with key customer, vehicle, product, manufacturing, and geographic information in a manner that allows organizations to achieve a level of knowledge that translates into significant value. "IBM and SAS have the industry expertise and market leadership to support the automotive industry's complexities while delivering the strongest technologies and ROI needed to meet industry challenges," said Thomas Roehm, SAS senior director of supply chain intelligence solutions. "SAS® Warranty Analysis allows our customers to detect fraudulent activity, identify emerging issues and forecast warranty costs before problems become pervasive."

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