SEMA Vehicle Technology - Personalization
Open innovation, collaboration, personalization and lean customization are quickly becoming best practices and competitive advantages in the new automotive normal. Today’s vehicles are not just a collection of 5,000 loosely integrated parts. They are an interdependent system of systems connecting body, chassis, interior and powertrain systems through more than 150 controllers and 10 million lines of code and embedded software. Automotive vehicle systems engineering is in some cases very close to rocket science. Both NHTSA and NASA played a critical role in the electronics systems and electromagnetic interference analysis of the unintended acceleration of vehicles produced by Toyota. These studies reinforced confidence in the safety and reliability of the advanced technologies of Toyota vehicles.
Products, processes and profits are inextricably linked. Lean customization, like lean production, is a paradox. On one hand, every activity, task and flow of work is rigidly scripted. Yet at the same time, lean operations are very flexible and responsive to customer demand. Designing for customization is the intersection of design, technology and the customer experience. Designing for customization and lean-customization principles cast the biggest shadow on profitable personalization. Commoditization, standardization and commonization actually drive customization. Lean-customization principles can make the difference between built-in profits and reverse–engineered costs. The OEMs are being driven to reduce vehicle complexity while simultaneously increasing the flexibility to build more models and variants off of fewer platforms.
Aftermarket companies and dealers can also help take the complexity out of assembly plants by collaborating with OEMs to develop product plans and vehicle architectures with cost-effective, simplified bills of material that can be profitably customized with factory and aftermarket-branded parts and accessories at dealers, customization centers and independent installers. If you are truly committed to competing and growing in the new automotive normal, designing for lean customization is a five-star product-development process. It’s a two-star process if you are simply involved.
And it’s a waste of time if you are just going through the motions. Enlightened automakers, consumer-electronics manufacturers, aftermarket companies, dealers and installers recognize that they need to work together to ensure that they can personalize vehicles and add future capabilities profitably. Open innovation and collaboration are essential for growth. Ford’s signature technologies — SYNC and EcoBoost — are great examples of Ford’s collaboration and personalization strategy for driving connected and driving green. Automakers and aftermarket companies that do not know how to apply collaborative value-chain practices and technologies will be beaten by those who do. Collaboration is not a hobby. It’s not easy to collaborate. It’s an unnatural act. Mazda, for example, will launch a hybrid using Toyota technology in 2013. Successful OEMs will rely more on the aftermarket to reach new markets and segments with increased personalization and lower costs. The old approach of proprietary architectures and closed systems hasn’t died yet, and the new approach to open innovation and collaboration is just beginning.
SEMA’s innovative partnership with the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) is an excellent example of open innovation and generative thinking in action. SEMA and CU-ICAR have teamed up to offer SEMA members access to world-class resources, including a 580 horsepower engine dynamometer test cell, a dual-column full-vehicle coordinate measuring machine, a seven-post road simulator in an environmental chamber, an electromagnetic compatibility chamber and a 500-horsepower four-wheel chassis dynamometer in an anechoic chamber.