For automotive companies, new vehicle development is a complex endeavor. While manufacturing has always had specific product development or product enhancement requirements, there is a lot of work that goes into vehicle design and testing – before even the production begins.
Most automotive companies set up test labs with physical assets to thoroughly cover all the aspects of vehicle testing. To ensure the maximum utilization of these test assets, companies need to ensure the proper planning, resource allocation, facility management, and maintenance of the assets. They also need to leverage virtual tests and make informed decisions based on the test results.
This is where a Test Laboratory Management System (or TLMS) comes into the picture.
What is TLMS and why must automotive companies adopt it? Let’s discuss.
What is a Test Lab Management System (TLMS)?
Typically, vehicle development has reduced from the previous 4-5 years to less than 3 years in the modern era. Inadequate product testing can lead to a surge in vehicle recalls or its various components, potentially costing revenue loss and brand equity.
A TLMS is designed to address this problem by enabling digital simulation in real-world scenarios. By enabling micro-level test execution, it can improve asset management including maintenance and calibration. This elevates product testing accuracy and avoids vehicle recalls.
How does TLMS benefit the automobile industry? Let’s discuss with the aid of industry case studies.
Benefits of Test Lab Management System in the Automotive sector
Here are 3 major benefits of TLMS for the automotive sector:
- Optimum Utilization of Test Assets
In most companies, development validation and facility management teams often work in silos. They usually communicate asynchronously via tools like emails or chats.
At the same time, companies usually work with a limited number of physical testing assets. It is critical to ensure that the assets are optimally utilized and maintained because the validation and testing teams could face challenges in testing in case the assets do not work smoothly.
However, asset maintenance is not easy because,
- The maintenance teams schedule the asset maintenance based on their predefined schedules.
- Since they do not have visibility into testing schedules, they are unable to synchronize asset maintenance or equipment calibration with the testing schedules. The maintenance activities, in such situations, conflict with the testing schedules.
- Maintenance teams are unable to schedule proactive or preventive maintenance as they do not have complete visibility into asset utilization.
With the use of a Test Lab Management System,
- The teams can collaborate seamlessly in real-time along with all available physical test resources.
- They can know the status of testing assets, their current condition, and utilization of all assets.
- Teams can bring transparency to the planning, scheduling, and reporting processes.
- Organizations can ensure lab efficiency as the TLMS takes care of end-to-end test request management, scheduling, and report management.
- Data Management and Traceability
A lot of data gets generated through the various stages of vehicle testing activities. The test results are valuable to make more informed decisions in the future stages of vehicle design and launch.
- The results are often maintained in siloed systems.
- Only selected stakeholders have the knowledge of or access to these results.
- These test results are not easily accessible or retrievable after a few years.
- There is no audit trait of these results since the information is not maintained in a centralized system.
Because of all such issues, companies end up conducting the same tests again and again, are unable to learn from the previous test results, and spend more time and cost on vehicle validation and testing.
With the use of a TLMS, automobile companies can
- Document and trace all laboratory data.
- Retrieve the production data (even after many years) and evaluate the information.
- Ensure data traceability during process audits.
- Deliver the right information at the right time to the stakeholders to optimize their development/validation schedules, make quick decisions, and ensure regulatory compliance.
- Provide a single source of truth for stakeholders from different physical locations and departments.
- Improve data traceability with minimum (or no) paperwork.
- Cross-Functional Team Communication
Vehicle design requires multiple teams to work together, share information with each other, and collaboratively work on the designs. The process runs in multiple stages for several months where multiple plans run in parallel.
Domain experts, design experts, testing teams, and maintenance teams need to work together to complete the Design Validation Planning in time.
When done manually (using Excel sheets) –
- There is no visibility to cross-functional teams.
- Since multiple teams work in parallel, keeping a track of all the activities is difficult.
- Teams often miss considering all the dependencies while testing, which results in retesting.
- Most tests are run based on gut feeling because the data and results of past results are not available for analysis at a centralized location.
- Since teams cannot communicate synchronously based on real-time data, they cannot do task prioritization.
- Manual movement of documents (and their versions) is prone to errors.
With Test Lab Management Solution, companies can
- Centrally store all test method standards and allow validation experts to choose what is relevant for a certain component or system.
- Give complete visibility into the current status of all assets to the teams, enabling effective resource planning.
- Enable close cooperation between design, development, and testing teams.
- Bring a more disciplined and process-oriented approach to the complete design validation process.
With our modern Test Lab Management platform, the company could reduce significant time in the testing process, enable data-driven decision-making, make the complete test life cycle process traceable with an audit trail, and significantly reduce operational costs.
If you are now convinced about the need for a TLMS, what should be the features of TLMS for the automobile sector? Let’s discuss next.
Features of TLMS for the Automotive industry
A comprehensive TLMS has a range of features that can satisfy various business needs.
Let us first look at some of its features in facility planning:
- Test request management: To create requests for testing on the facility premises. The solution should maintain the facility capabilities and display each new test request.
- Scheduler module: To plan and schedule facility management. Facility managers should be able to get complete visibility over the facility usage and accordingly allocate the available facility.
- Report management app: To generate general and technical reports for each test request.
Next, let us look at the features for asset maintenance and instrumentation:
- Asset management: To manage maintenance equipment and their health status. It should allow the users to easily manage their maintenance and calibration data in facility-specific asset libraries.
- Issue or Incidence management: To report any asset-related issues or problems including equipment, software programs, and utilities in the test laboratory. It should offer the functionality to automatically send email notifications to maintenance engineers or suppliers.
- Utilization: To provide a complete view of the level of utilization in the testing facility. Users should be able to view facility availability and efficiency levels in a highly visual way, along with options for idle, running, or breakdown details.
Effectively, the TLMS tool is indispensable for automobile manufacturers and OEMs in performing their daily vehicle testing-related tasks. This test lab management system can store all the testing assets, data, and reports in a centralized format, thus enabling efficient data traceability and management.
As an independent system integrator, iASYS technology solutions work in the area of data management and testing for automobile companies around the world. Our flagship product BRIX Labs offers a range of innovations including EV eMobility, automated driver assistance, and autonomous driving.
Looking to innovate your automobile services? Contact us today!