Fixing the car

IBM has unveiled a new service that allows automakers and fleet owners to collect and analyze large quantities of vehicle diagnostics data so they can more easily detect trends and better manage warranty coverage.

Studies show that more than one-third of auto breakdowns are related to electrical or electronics systems. Failures are expected to rise even higher as vehicles become increasingly complex. This is making warranty management both a major expense and customer satisfaction issue for automakers and fleet owners.

In response, IBM has created what it calls the “ParametricAnalysisCenter” for automotive service, using data-management, mining, and analysis technologies to analyze collections of data from in-car electronic components. This data can then be used to address problems emerging in the field or to help with the research and design of new automobiles.

“Today much of the data that we capture at the repair shop to diagnose problems with a particular vehicle are lost once the vehicle is repaired,” said IBM researcher Nathaniel Mills, who invented the technology. “With an approach like this, data can be preserved and used to develop automated analysis routines to help all mechanics correctly diagnose the same type of problem as well as to provide an early warning system to identify major issues affecting many vehicles.”

The new ParametricAnalysisCenter service allows original equipment manufacturers to deliver parametric and diagnostic data to IBM who can then analyze the data using advanced algorithms to create recommendations and reports, addressing specific vehicle or fleet wide issues.

The collection and analysis of vehicle diagnostic data allows individuals participating in the vehicle lifecycle management to understand how a single vehicle is performing or determine whether a trend is developing across a group of vehicles that needs attention. Currently, information is gathered in various forms and not put into a central repository for further analysis.

The IBM Research team tested the technique with the help of the US Army’s NationalAutomotiveCenter. The US Army is currently evaluating the technology for potential application to its fleet of vehicles.

The new offering is now available through IBM Business Consulting Services.