Welcome to Thomas Insights — every day, we publish the latest news and analysis to keep readers up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry. Sign up here to get the day’s top stories delivered straight to your inbox.
Ford Motor Company (FMC) has been a pioneer in automobile development since 1903. In 1913, the company revolutionized the industry with the introduction of the mobile assembly line and has not stopped innovating since.
Last month, FMC reported second-quarter revenue of $3.7 billion, more than triple the same period last year. How can big data help automakers stay competitive in today’s industry?
What Challenges Are Car Makers Facing in the 21st Century?
Legacy automakers like FMC have many challenges to deal with in this modern age.
First, there is fierce competition from rival companies including Google, Tesla, and General Motors; all of them are racing to develop the world’s first autonomous car.
Second, customer preferences and behavior change rapidly. Younger buyers are not only more concerned about driving cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles, but they are also much less reluctant to make long-term investments — something that is especially true when a sizeable down payment is required.
As a result of these changing consumer expectations, automakers are feeling pressure to offer more flexible financing options, provide a more digital customer experience, and transform their manufacturing processes to operate more sustainably. Marketing effectively to the next generation of vehicle owners has also proven challenging.
Finally, there’s the fact that automakers have huge amounts of data at their disposal. Ford has tens of millions of vehicles on the road and collects data on everything from leases and credit to dealer repair and warranty service. As technology advances and cars become more and more connected, data management becomes more challenging. It’s all very good to have a lot of data, but automakers need to understand how to use it to their advantage.
Big data is proving to be fundamental in helping automakers overcome some of these challenges, and FMC is one of the manufacturers that has quickly embraced it.
Ford’s Investment in Big Data
In 2018, FMC revealed that it would invest in two new data centers. Some consider this a counter-measure in the cloud computing era, but the company anticipates a 1,000% increase in data volume thanks to the advent of the connected car.
Most recently, in 2021, the company announced a strategic partnership with Google. The tech giant is assisting FMC in modernizing IT systems and using data more aggressively to increase revenue, improve customer experience and drive innovation. At the same time, the company said it had chosen Google Cloud as its cloud provider of choice.
Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said of the partnership “we are proud to partner to deploy Google’s best AI, data analytics, computing and cloud platforms to help transform Ford’s business and build automotive technology that keeps people safe and connected. on the road.”
How Ford Uses Big Data
How is this investment in big data paying off for FMC?
Internal and external data from a variety of sources including dealers, repairs, credit trends, and warranty services is part of the data lake developed by the Ford IT team. This data is used to identify new services and revenue streams to drive company growth.
In 2020, Ford launched a usage-based auto insurance program with OnStar Vehicle Data. Thanks to the collection of driver data, the program adjusts each customer’s insurance policy based on their driving behavior and use of the vehicle’s safety system.
Big Data helps FMC identify potential engine failures before they occur. The automaker partnered with the robotics department of Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera in 2019 to develop Miniterms 4.0. This predictive maintenance system alerts factory workers when manufacturing equipment functionality slows down.
The company’s Global Data Insights and Analytics team is working to make this data available to Ford facilities around the world, with the knowledge that it will reduce production delays and increase customer satisfaction. In its first year, the project resulted in more than $1 million in savings.
A partnership with IT service management company GFT technology resulted in the development of applications that monitor material inputs and process parameters on metal stamping production lines. The stamping machine, which produces 900 parts per hour, generates a large amount of data, including images of each component. By leveraging visualization and analytical tools, FMC’s team of engineers can better understand the inner workings of the production line to ensure parts quality.
FMC’s partnership with Google will see its vehicles developed with built-in Google apps, including maps and voice technology. Features like this ensure the driver keeps his eyes on the road, and not his phone.
Proper collection and analysis of driver data also helps the company in developing more advanced safety systems. These systems may include blind spot warning, emergency braking, or lane keeping assistance.
Electric Vehicle Development
Ford has developed a range of telematics applications to help its commercial clients optimize EV battery and running costs. This app enables energy monitoring across the fleet and provides vehicle management tools.
Supply Chain Analysis
Advanced supply chain analysis helps FMC anticipate and mitigate supply chain disruptions. With the average passenger car made up of more than 30,000 parts, disruptions such as natural disasters, geopolitical unrest, border closures, and shipping delays can result in major supply chain upheavals.
Better supply chain visibility allows automakers like FMC to implement emergency strategies as needed while maintaining a lean operating model.
How Do Ford’s Efforts Compare To Other Automakers?
Ford isn’t the only automaker leveraging big data:
And those are just a few examples.
The automotive industry big data market is expected to reach USD 9920.1 million by 2027. With this in mind, we can assume that soon all the biggest players in the industry will be dominated by data.
Image Credit: Fancey Media / Shutterstock.com