The perils of vehicle recall and software updates ailing the automotive industry
Vehicle recall due to potential safety concern had doubled in 2018 compared to the previous year. The saga continued in 2019, with BMW, Subaru, Tesla, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Daimler Vans and Ferrari recalling about 1.7 million vehicles to replace potentially deadly air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. of Japan.
This would be one of the most expensive and time-consuming product recalls to ever strike America's auto industry, but this certainly isn't the last. In 2017 Carfax reported 63 million active vehicles with open safety recall on the roads, which was a 34 percent increase from 2016's statistics.
The automobile industry is also having product recalls of a different kind. With the consumers gearing up to get their cars updated, much like their smartphones, cars too are becoming as changeable as the iPhone home screen. From dashboards to door locks – software updates can take the user experience to a new level.
The software update can be done in various ways but the information about the latest upgrade is often limited to a limited few. A large segment of stakeholders has been left out as they are not interconnected. This creates ambiguity regarding the current version of upgrade.
The increasing use of software and electronic equipment and hardware problems are resulting in frequent product recalls for the automotive industry. The end consumers are at the risk of driving a faulty vehicle until identified and recalled.
How innovation in Blockchain can pull the automotive industry out of fire
This is where a blockchain consortium between OEM, various suppliers, ECU and VIN can help. The technology can weave data from VIN, OEM, suppliers, dealerships, service centres, and financial entities bringing in updates from the regulators into a tamperproof chain. The blockchain consortium can facilitate the continuous firmware upgrades, which end customers often miss out due to difficulty in tracking and tracing the vehicles. Often software upgrades create new issues, and many recalls now a days are software related. A solution based on blockchain consortium eliminates the problem of recalls by providing a comprehensive ledger version at a VIN level and that too across the manufacturer, government, and suppliers. It helps in expediting the process to provide comprehensive regulatory reporting.
Over the past year or so, stakeholders in the auto industry are looking at blockchain technologies for business applications and launch of major initiatives. HCL, an industry leader in blockchain is currently working on Blockchain consortium. The idea is to offer a revolutionising solution by creating a chain or information and database that would help the manufacturer have that bird’s eye view of the mechanical and software versions running in each sold vehicle. The technology will not only help vehicle manufactures in recalls but also identify changes introduced in the car at workshops or help identify cause of an accident. This will help the insurance companies and investigating agencies in settling disputes as well.
Why set up Blockchain consortiums?
What makes the Blockchain consortium work over other available technologies is its ability to share secured data among stakeholders. This technology empowers car manufacturers to maintain a tamper-proof log of all records such as service logs, details of wear and tear of spare parts, details of the origin of each and every vehicle equipment helping them identify vehicles requiring recall in no time. As a result, recalls like Takata Corp. manufactured airbag snag, which is fitted in millions of vehicles across different segments, involving several manufacturers and is critical to auto safety, can be done in a month, instead of months.
No doubt blockchain consortiums will enhance accountability, integrity, traceability, data security, privacy, and anonymity. As part of the consortium the OEM, various suppliers, ECU, dealerships, service centres, financial entities, and government would induce transparency, traceability, robustness, integrity, and trustworthiness for each other. With cars getting increasingly software dependent, software update is the order of the day for the car owners. Hence the future lies in ECU automotive linkage. It will not only enhance authentication but will provide long-term sustainability and a higher operational efficiency to the whole industry.
Product recalls can be very expensive. When companies in the automobile industry can’t pinpoint the exact vehicles that need to be recalled, they must overcompensate to protect consumers. Automotive ECU linkage for better tracking and tracing can solve this problem.
Here is how the Supply chain logistics with ECU linkage works
The challenges of the automotive industry Vs the advantage of automotive ECU linkage
The biggest challenge faced by the automotive industry currently is the increasing software complexity and distributed sources of firmware / ECU. There is no recording of firmware binary revision in each ECU/VIN combination. The test results/configuration is not recorded at firmware revision level. The explosive growth of digital components in the automotive industry saw many folds increase in development lead-time and failure analysis in the last five years.
With the above-mentioned challenges contributing to the loss of money, time, and brand value for the automobile industry, those opting for ECU automotive linkage for better track and trace can count on the listed advantages:
- Comprehensive software ledger at VIN level.
- Connects distributed data across organisations
- Single system of truth for corresponding parts
- Automated audit trail for government/regulatory agencies
- Can be extended to track complete supply chain parts (global)
- Rapid root cause analysis during recall scenario
- Possibility of high-performance Big Data analysis
Blockchain is the future
Automotive industry is changing, and blockchain is making a significant impact on that change. The blockchain application consortium certainly has a strong case in favour of changing many aspects of the automotive industry. It has the power to introduce agile, make the best use of IoT and AI, and save cost and time during a recall or a software update. Innovators have just started scratching the surface of blockchain application in the automobile industry.