How software innovation improves quality in automotive manufacturing

Back in the 1980s, Ford had an advertising campaign touting how “Quality is Job 1.”

That’s just a slogan, but it points to the truth of how vital quality is in the automotive industry, a niche where quality lapses lead to damaging PR, government recalls, and potential liability, quality is an especially big deal.

The kind of quality that automotive manufacturers need to achieve goes beyond front-facing features. Customer-facing technological innovations have flooded the automotive market in recent years. From big things like self-driving cars to small features like bluetooth connections, customers are gravitating toward cars that are smarter and smarter.

But innovations aren’t just for the finished product. Innovations in the automotive manufacturing space can help OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers make major gains in terms of quality.

Here are five specific ways that innovation can improve automotive manufacturing quality.

1. Move from lagging indicators to leading indicators

A few years ago, an AIAG survey indicated that the automotive industry was improving in terms of quality. Good news.

But the way they were doing this was by monitoring lagging indicators and then adjusting. This process worked to improve quality—it just didn’t do it quickly.

The survey called out the need for the industry to move from lagging indicators to leading indicators. Innovation is the way to get there. It may be anything from predictive analytics to data visualization to a host of other technologies. However you do it, the move to leading indicators is vital to proactive issue management and resolution.

2. More informed product development

The more you know about quality, the more information you have for developing new products. What parts tend to cause problems? What points of failure do you have to account for? Knowing this information eliminates some of the trial and error of the product development process. That leads to better solutions on better timelines.

3. Augmented reality spot checks and fixes

One of the trendiest areas of innovation is augmented reality. You don’t need AR to set up Harry Potter Go on your production floor, but there are plenty of ROI-creating applications for AR in manufacturing. Some of the biggest are in terms of machine repair and proactive service.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There will undoubtedly be more groundbreaking advancements in this area. That means it’s time for your business to get familiar with what AR is and what it can do.

4. Connected information

Unless your manufacturing facility is brand new, you likely have gaps in the end to end manufacturing process. At some point, someone creates a spreadsheet or prints out an order from engineering to testing to supply chain to the actual manufacturing process.

One of the places that we have seen automotive manufacturing clients embrace innovation is with this kind of solution. By managing the workflow digitally, manufacturers get better data to analyze, and a clear view of where any project is at any point in time. It’s a game changer that every major manufacturer should pursue.

5. Comparative analytics

Data is the lifeblood of any business, because it helps you identify problems to solve and opportunities to capitalize on. That’s why many companies are looking for ways to put this data to work through analysis of how different facilities are performing. Quality Insider put it this way: “If one facility is running an identical process significantly more efficiently than another, the information could be shared with the second site to enable process improvement. Extending this learning opportunity across a manufacturing environment helps to increase overall effectiveness and improve variation across operations.”


The best automotive manufacturers are always looking to advance their products while continuing to deliver a high standard of quality. The only way that can happen is through innovation. Whether the opportunity before your company is one of these five ideas or a different new frontier, continue to explore ways that your automotive industry company can move forward and continue to thrive.

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