Automotive Software

Save time and resources on the Assembly line

Automotive is an evolving industry which affects our daily lives. In order to keep up with transportation needs and demand, software is a great tool to apply to an automotive company. From assembly to VIN Validation, there are a variety of automotive software applications to complement the business. Our clients have had great things to say about our work, so we highlighted some of the latest technologies in the automotive industry and a few ways we have helped automotive clients gain efficiency in their processes.

If your automotive company is ready to save time and resources, please fill out the form to begin the conversation. 

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ADAS

ADAS, short for Advanced Driving Autonomous Systems, is a form of artificial intelligence perhaps better known as the “self-driving car.” SAE International defines 6 levels of autonomy, 0-5, with 0 being fully manual and 5 being fully autonomous or self-driving.

This technology uses hardware and software to automate driving to a destination safely without human involvement. The hardware involved include sensors, camera, radar and lidar. These help the computer gain an understanding of the vehicle’s surroundings. ADAS incorporate machine learning and usually share data acquired while driving with a remote data center. This allows the system to learn, adjust and improve.

API

API stands for Application Programming Interface, which is intended to be a software-to-software interface, not a user interface. This is what allows for two applications to talk to one another. There are four main types of Web API: Open, Partner, Internal and Composite. It’s important to understand that API is not a database or server, but rather the code that allows access to the server or database.

Case Study 

  • Client needed support for an existing database and API system to manage data synchronization
  • Spud provided support for the custom API for inventory levels and data synchronization between WordPress e-Store and Business eBay profile

Implementations

  • Data synchronization
  • Information sharing
  • Mapping technology

Artificial Intelligence

With the idea surprisingly first conceived in Greek myths, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a concept more recently developed. Simply put, AI is a branch of computer science developing smart machines to complete tasks usually requiring human intelligence. There are two broad categories of AI, Narrow AI and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI).

Narrow AI, also known as “Weak AI,” is simply a simulation of human intelligence. They can perform specific tasks well, but don’t have the general intelligence to do other things. Some examples would be Alexa, Siri, Google Search, as well as self-driving cars.

AGI, also known as “Strong AI,” is still quite hypothetical with the idea being the machine is much more like a human in that it can use its intelligence problem solve. While there are no real examples as of today, one may envision robots or droids we’ve seen in science-fiction movies, such as C3PO in Star Wars.

Barcodes

Barcodes are unique identifiers that represent data most commonly through numbers and parallel lines of varying widths and spacing. They have been around for over 60 years, and we see them in action today everywhere from automotive manufacturers to grocery stores.

There are two types of barcodes, 1D and 2D. 1D barcodes include Uniform Product Codes (UPC), Code 39, POSTNET, Bookland, Code 128, Interleaved 2 of 5 and Codabar. You’d typically see these barcodes, particularly UPCs at retail stores. 2D barcodes include PDF417, Maxicode, Data Matrix and QR Code. These are typically used to relay large amounts of text, data or messages.

​Barcodes allow manufacturers to operate at maximum efficiency. With the help of machine readers, vital information about a product can be identified within seconds. This quick access to data allows users to work faster and eliminates the need for manual data entry or research. Software systems keep things organized and can support the businesses by properly reading and creating barcodes.

Case Study

  • Client needed a mobile solution to process returned stock
  • Spud was able to create an application that installed directly on a handheld scanner
  • Employees could scan returned stock and mark a reason
  • Gained efficiency by being able to scan on the go in the garage or warehouse

Implementations

  • Mobile application for scanning
  • All-weather devices
  • Handheld devices
  • Shipping & Receiving
  • Location & Inventory Tracking

BOM

A BOM, or Bill of Materials, is a critical file for every manufacturer. Without it, the manufacturer could not create the product properly. Sometimes known as a formula, recipe or ingredients list, the BOM contains a complete list of what is necessary to produce or repair a product. This list may include, but is not limited to, raw materials, quantity, unit of measure, substitute parts, components, assemblies and any other information needed to create the end product.

Case Study

  • Supplier needed a web-based software solution with the same functionality as their MS Access with additional features
  • Spud designed a new system which incorporated bill of materials management in addition to many other useful features

Implementations

  •  Purchasing integration
  • Sales quoting integration
  • Inventory integration

CAN bus

With its debut in 1986 at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) conference in Detroit, CAN bus is a network that allows multiple microcontrollers and devices to communicate. “CAN” stands for “Controller Area Network,” and the term “bus” refers to a communications system that moves data between components. This standard was designed so that a primary controller could watch over all vehicle systems. With this in place, it is easier to monitor and diagnose problems.

Dashboards

While dashboards are utilized in many industries, they are particularly important to understand performance and efficiency within the automotive industry. With access to production KPIs in one location, a business owner, manager or other decision-maker can track productivity levels and improve the quality and efficiency of production. This information is also imperative for planning, as you can quickly assess any potential capacity roadblocks.

​A dashboard should be customized to provide you graphs and information most important to you on one screen. They may update periodically throughout the day, daily or weekly, depending on how you would like to consume this information and how it may affect your process.

Automotive Software

Case Study

  • Client needed to be able to feed their internal dashboard for live reporting of current data and have a backup of their cloud data
  • Spud built the functionality to pull data from cloud data

Implementations

  • KPI
  • Inventory
  • Sales
  • Project management
  • Asset tracking
  • Financials

EDI

EDI, or Electronic Data Interchange, is the electronic transfer of information from one company to another. The elimination of paper processes eliminates many causes of delay, human error and wasted time or effort. As a result, this standard creates a more efficient process.

For example, an invoice or a purchase order would be ideal for EDI. Prior to EDI, one employee would create the invoice or purchase order, print, prepare a letter and send via postal mail. Meanwhile, the recipient would wait to receive the document and enter it into their own system, likely beginning another paper process. However, now the sender can securely send to the appropriate recipient with the assistance of EDI in only 3 steps. The steps would be to first prepare, then translate into EDI format and finally transmit to the recipient.

Case Study

  • Client needed integrations for efficiency
  • Spud used API so that they could send invoice data to QuickBooks
  • Invoices are automatically generated for each customer containing all vehicles and associated itemized charges

Implementations

  • Just in time (JIT) manufacturing
  • Purchase orders
  • Invoicing

Integrations

The automotive industry is so fast-paced, it’s important that every detail is recorded and communicated. Any delay can cost a company precious dollars and resources. It can be difficult to find a solution that does everything one needs. Therefore, the more complex a project, the more systems or applications the project likely requires. Integrations bring these together in one accessible location.

The quick access that integrations allow prevent business owners and operators from having to navigate multiple systems and applications to complete a project or check in on their status.

Automotive Software

Case Study

  • Client needed a comprehensive business system
  • Spud developed a business system for managing their tire and auto repair business from end to end, inclusive of:
    • Integrated inventory management features
    • Year, make, model, tire data integration
    • Dynamic, market specific pricing controls
    • On-line tire pricing and appointment scheduling

Implementations

  •  Accounting
    • QuickBooks
    • Microsoft Dynamics GP
    • Peachtree Financial Solutions
    • Sage Intacct
    • Payment processing

Inventory

Typically, a manufacturing company will need to keep track of three types of inventory – Raw Material, Work-In-Progress (WIP) and Finished Goods. Raw Material Inventory would refer to any material that is used in the manufacturing process to create an end product or finished good. Work-In-Progress Inventory refers to all goods in process to become a finished good. Finished Goods Inventory refers to any product ready for sale.

As each of these categories heavily impact and rely on the other, it’s important to track each efficiently and carefully. Manufacturing software aids in tracking inventory numbers themselves, as well as other important details such as quality and costs in order to maximize product efficiency.

Case Study

  • Client sought a way to improve the performance of their complex tire and wheel assembly operation
  •  Spud developed an application that improved production and quality
    • A just-in-time inventory management system
    • Vehicle specific inventory selection prompts

Implementations

  • Barcode scanning
  • Automatic reorder
  • Vendor integration

OBD

On-Board Diagnostics, shortened as “OBD,” is a system which allows a vehicle to diagnose itself and report issues. These systems, which consist of an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and various sensors, allow owners or technicians to access vehicle diagnostic information.

The first generation, OBD-I, was originally intended to encourage manufacturers to meet EPA emission standards. OBD-II, introduced by the Society of Automotive Engineers and International Standardization Organization in the 1990s, became the requirement for all newer models by 1996.

OBD-II scanners report Diagnostic Trouble Codes, or DTC’s. There are four categories: Body/B-codes, Chassis/C-codes, Powertrain/P-codes and Network & Vehicle Integration/U-codes. The codes are a five-digit alphanumeric code, which begins with the category letter followed by numbers which encodes the fault.

Automotive Software

Case Study

  •  Client needed a system to deliver better quality and performance for their automotive engine
  • Spud developed software that receives a diagnostic data feed of compression rate values and analyzes the deviation rates versus the quality standard
  • The performance of each cylinder is displayed in easy to use data formats as well as graphical displays that provide key performance alerts

Implementations

  • Hand-held scan tools
  • OBD monitor
  • Data loggers
  • Vehicle telematics 

OCR

OCR means Optical Character Recognition. OCR technology is the method of converting text, whether hand-written, printed, embossed, etc. into an electronically searchable digital format. Since many industries stamp parts with serial numbers, manufacturers have begun using OCR cameras with software to read part numbers on the production line and ensure each part or accessory is placed accurately and in proper order.

Case Study

  • Client needed ability to generate and send documentation emails
  • Using OCR, a local application was created to scan specific email accounts as well as network folders
  • This application pulls any new documents, scans them with OCR, and presents them to the appropriate team for verification

Implementations

  • VIN
  • Part numbers
  • Label readers

OEM

OEM, meaning Original Equipment Manufacturer, is a term used to refer to the original producer of a product’s components. Since an automaker can certainly produce some parts and assemble the car, they can’t possibly produce each component of the vehicle, which is the purpose of OEMs. These parts are the ones selected by the vehicle’s engineers.

It’s particularly important to know the OEM as a mechanic or repair service, as parts may malfunction or become damaged in car accidents. Certainly, it is more cost-effective and environmentally friendly to replace one part than to replace the whole vehicle. OEM software can help identify the OEM and find and purchase replacement parts.

PLC

A PLC, short for Programmable Logic Controller, is an industrial computer adapted for manufacturing. These can be utilized on assembly lines or anywhere it would be appropriate to automate mechanical processes. They were first developed for automobile manufacturing, but their adaptability allows them to operate in most harsh environments, making them ideal for other assembly lines.

The main components of a PLC typically include a processor, a rack, input assembly, output assembly, power supply, and some sort of software. Software is the key to control the machine operation and to access any data in may be programmed to collect.

Printing

Technology has evolved over time in such a way that things that once took up a large amount of real estate are now portable and easily used by many. Society saw the beginning of print technology over 500 years ago with the introduction of the printing press. Subsequently, as technology progressed, printers became an important asset to computers.

Further, printers have now evolved into portable devices which greatly aid automotive manufacturing efforts. On-demand and portable printing allow the printing of labels, receipts, invoices and anything else that may be relevant to your business to be done in real-time. This modernized process has resulted in quicker production times and efficiency.

Case Study

  • Client needed ability to print barcode labels, shipping labels and pictures
  • Spud implemented an API to automatically print FedEx labels for title shipment
  • Personnel now has the ability to photograph vehicles, enter additional vehicle data, and print barcode labels from a mobile printer

Implementations

  • Wireless Printing
  • On demand unique labeling
  • Barcodes
  • RFID

Prototype

A prototype is an early model of a product, such as a car or engine. Prior to prototyping, the concept of the product is merely theoretical. The purpose of the prototype is to test the concept itself, the process of developing it or both.

It’s important to first create a prototype before beginning full production so that one can evaluate the limitations of the product or any obstacles that may occur during production. In other words, a prototype can reveal important details that may not have been considered during the design phases.

Quality Control

Quality Control is a term used in many industries, but it’s particularly important in the automotive industry. Above all, it may be the difference between life and death for a customer. This process ensures that a company’s customers receive their products ready to use without any defects. Even when the defects are not potentially life-threatening, they can still cost the business upwards of billions of dollars.

Consequently, many companies apply statistical process control (SPC) monitors or Six Sigma in order to maintain quality in production. Whether or not a product poses liability risks, it’s important to monitor quality control in order to support customers’ loyalty, their repeat business and potential referrals.

Case Study

  • Client sought a way to improve the performance of their complex tire and wheel assembly operation
  • Spud developed an application that improved production and quality
    •  A just-in-time inventory management system
    • Vehicle specific inventory selection prompts
    • Built in quality validation checkpoints
    • Imaging system that provided an additional visual quality check

Implementations

  • KPI
  • Metrics
  • Real-time image capture
  • Data logging
  • Customer portals
  • Analysis review

Supplier

An automotive supplier is one that manufacturers goods used during the production process or as part of the vehicle. The size of the company can range from small businesses to larger corporations, and the goods themselves can range from something as small as the nuts and bolts to entire assemblies.

Suppliers are divided into 3 tiers which indicate their value to the OEM. Tier 3 suppliers supply the raw materials, but do not necessarily supply to the OEM exclusively or even directly. These suppliers supply to all levels. The Tier 2 suppliers are experts in their domain that supply to Tier 1, but not exclusively. Tier 1 suppliers are those that use the materials from the other tiers to supply parts or systems to the OEM.

VIN Validation

A VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, is a unique code consisting of 17 numbers and letters found stamped on a metal plate on a vehicle’s dashboard. This is used to identify the make, manufacturer, model, year and location of manufacturer for that particular vehicle.