The Automotive Sector

Challenge – The Pace of Change

Automotive control and information systems companies are faced with a formidable challenge. The increasing complexity and focus on safety standards has ratcheted up the pressure of bringing these complex products to market (while not neglecting the expectation that it can be developed faster and cheaper, deliver reduced unit cost and higher reliability for reduced cost over life).

Add to the mix, a rapidly evolving standards system (e.g. EGAS, AUTOSAR, ISO26262), and relentless pressure to differentiate final products by brand and value, which is increasingly defined by the systems capability of many inter-operating electronic and software subsystems, produced in competing supply chains, and under different OEM strategies with respect to assembly, integration and validation.

In Automotive, as with most industries, time to delivery is critical and missing deadlines incurs significant financial penalties. Our task is to help our clients maintain focus on their own core competencies – their market and opportunities, while we help deliver solutions matched to their business needs.

We help you to design, develop and integrate a wide variety of complex software-intensive systems that can:

  • Improve your time to market for a portfolio of products
  • Allow easy injection of technology advancements
  • Quickly address new or expanding markets using product variant techniques
  • Improve product validation burdens in response to standards and regulatory requirements
  • Improve product functionality, functional safety, integrity and reliability

Product Developments

  • Control System products
  • Diagnostic and Prognostic support
  • Product line techniques for variant product portfolios
  • Obsolescence and technology introduction mitigation

We also support pre-product Technology Development programmes and Prototyping

Our Capabilities

We have signifciant experience in system solutions for Engine Control, Transmission Management and Hybrid Management and the architecting of software solutions for real-time control of complex controller software, to full, robust, product solutions.

We can also help you plan and execute a fast-track risk-reduction programme across 'x-in-the Loop' techniques and using adaptors to allow use of 'mule' vehciles without damaging core product software architecture whilst maximising implementation for re-use.

Techical Training and/or hands-on support, in abstract product lines, or product specifics:

  • System and Software Architecture, Definition, Design and Modelling
  • System, Subsystem and Software Design, Development and Test Expertise
  • Hazard Analysis, Safety Strategies and (ISO26262) assessment, process and product aspects to achieve QM to ASIL D as necessary
  • Development and Integration, Model-in-the-Loop through Hardware-in-the-Loop to Vehicle test
  • Full Product Lifecycle Support, both during development and fielded product
  • Electronic System Product Strategy Experience, Electronic and Software System architecture trades
  • Processing Platform understanding, Microcontroller use, Hardware Abstraction Layer design and implementation
  • Control Sensitivity analysis - know which aspects are a problem and what you do to bring them under control
  • Multi-domain control strategies (e.g. Electromagnetic to Hydraulic for controlling solenoid operated valves or pilots)
  • Programme Estimation, People, Skill and Material dependency review
  • Productivity analysis, Plant Modelling, Communication network analysis

Core Product vs Variant

Being able to offer a series of variant product to maximise market opportunities is an investment gamble.

Having a core architecture that is able to flex to accommodate the expected future needs is a significant investment compared to a single product solution. But experience shows that no matter what re-use is expected, unless a product is designed with the intent of the future variants, it's fiendishly difficult to deliver.

Time-to-Market costs

Ever shortening design and development cycles means that teams are piled high, or that signficant at-risk development has to be done.

Large teams and the reliance on communication require different development styles. Dispersed development adds to that burden.

Rapidly evolving, competitive markets means at-risk developments have a limited life.

Product architectures determine how much concurrent engineering you can achieve, but you need a strong architect to define, champion and defend the interfaces, logically, temporally and even contractually.

In most electromechanical systems the control software is the choreography, but this may only account for some 20% of functionality. The majority of the system deals with system diagnostics and failure accommodation and little of this can be validated until the system is integrated.

Where should you focus your efforts?

Do you really understand the implications of changing the team size, programme duration, or even skill mix?