Like almost all sectors, the automotive industry is impacted by the proliferation of data, both around its products and its processes. A rapid evolution that imposes multiple challenges on the players in the sector (manufacturers and equipment manufacturers of all tiers), some of which will have to be met in the short term.
Connected automotive: new suppliers, new data flows
For several months, the media have been talking about the numerous initiatives related to future of self-driving – vehicles. After these initial tests and the adoption of the relevant regulations country by country, there is no doubt that we will succeed. But before seeing so far, the steps ahead are still numerous and some technologies are already being implemented in connected automotive, which are becoming simply connected, as a first level towards their future autonomy.
For the car manufacturers, this (r)evolution in progress implies integrating new equipment manufacturers into their ecosystem of partners, capable, alongside the historic ones, of supplying the necessary elements to the connected car. This integration is not only contractual, but also technical, especially for data exchange.
However, while B2B EDI integration is still present for transactions with historical equipment manufacturers, its rigidity and complexity of implementation make it difficult to use with new entrants, some of them not even having the technical capacity to implement it.
This is where API Management solution can take over: car manufacturers simply publish a number of services to which new suppliers simply connect for their data exchanges. This allows the entire equipment ecosystem to become more responsive and flexible in a “hyperactive” market.
CAD Data: Consequences of Format Standardization
In order to gain efficiency and be able to collaborate from the design of industrial products and throughout their life cycle, a standardization of CAD data exchanges (engineering data) was undertaken, and led to the publication of the STEP standard, for STandard for Exchange of Product model data.
Objective: to offer industrial software (CAD/CAM, analytical, data management…) a standard communication support, and to their users the means to collaborate easily within the framework of common projects, and this, obviously, in order to reinforce the efficiency of the industrial sector in general, and connected automotive in particular.
But standardization alone is not enough
To ensure total efficiency in the value chain, standardization is not sufficient because in parallel with these exchanges now facilitated by the STEP standard, two consequences appear: a sharp increase in the volume of exchanges, and an extreme degree of security, in the context of naturally confidential industrial projects.
Beyond the industrial applications themselves, it is therefore a question of equipping exchanges to respond to these constraints, notably with the help of MFT (Managed File Transfer) solutions and other collaborative tools for exchanging files.
Traceability: to follow closely
In the agri-food and pharmaceutical industries, traceability is now part of the DNA of the sectors, largely stimulated by public opinion, which is increasingly sensitive to the challenges linked to health risks.
In other industry sectors, and in particular the connected automotive industry, the concept of traceability is much less obvious a priori, although the issue is increasingly raised. This is mainly due to the multiplicity of elements integrated into connected automotive, and the number of suppliers involved, spread over all tiers.
At present, traceability difficulties result from the lack of standardization of identification elements, such as events, throughout the value chain: since each company uses its own formats, it is always possible to trace one element or another, but traceability of the entire value chain lacks fluidity.
This standardization deficiency is a hindrance to the traceability of events and requests around products. Through the Odette platform, which brings together the majority of European automotive players (manufacturers and equipment manufacturers), standardization work on the basis of EPCIS (Electronic Product Code Information Services) has begun, with France and Germany at the forefront.
Still in its infancy, however, the process of standardizing traceability will necessarily be long and complex before it is completed.