Increased vehicle electrification and proliferating model configurations pose considerable challenges to service technicians tasked with maintenance and repair of vehicles. In this setting, it is critical that up-to-date, configuration-specific service information is available to ensure effective, efficient, and safe vehicle maintenance and repair. Lack of the appropriate service documentation can not only have a negative impact on quality and cost of service, but it can ultimately impact a customer's brand loyalty.
IDC Manufacturing Insights conducted a global study to assess technicians' and original equipment manufacturers' (OEMs') perceptions of the impact of increased vehicle complexity on service efficacy. The over 2000-participant study also examined what service technicians assert they need in terms of service information and what OEMs are doing to address these needs. Key findings from the study include:
- Perceptions concerning the impact of rising vehicle technology density on service performance are similar between OEMs and technicians: both groups believe that repair time and service cost will worsen because of increasing vehicle complexity.
- Dealerships and independent repair facility (IRF) technicians indicate they frequently encounter service events that require them to search for additional information, whether consulting peers or telephone support, implying they do not have adequate, readily available information and/or training. This need is greater for independents, underscoring that IRFs are less prepared to handle the repair challenges of modern vehicles.
- There is a gap in OEM and technician opinions about the usefulness of tools and information used to perform service. While many OEMs are aware of this need and have initiatives to close service information gaps, some have no plans to.
IDC Manufacturing Insights asserts that OEMs must weigh the potential impact of new technologies on service performance, both in dealerships and in the aftermarket. They need to ensure that technicians have access to complete and up-to-date information, especially with regard to tasks concerning safety. OEMs that do have programs or plans in place need to ensure that their initiatives are tightly aligned with technicians' needs - real and perceived - in order to ensure the tools are being used.
Software providers can help by collaborating closely with OEMs to develop and deploy systems that enable effective field service and promote technicians' safety. These include develop methods to make it easier for content authors to reuse CAD and other information from the PLM system instead of creating it from scratch, and creating methods to effectively augment safety and work instructions with CAD drawings, photo-realistic images, and video clips to portray content for efficient, effective, and safe execution of service.
While OEMs shoulder much of the burden to provide knowledge and tools for effective vehicle service, independent and dealer technicians alike must also invest in the necessary training and information tools to cost effectively perform service as well as mitigate risks associated with servicing new vehicle technologies. Because IRFs are somewhat disadvantaged compared with dealership technicians when it comes to having the most up-to-date knowledge for service events, it is critical that IRF management and shop owners work diligently to make OEMs' resources available to technicians.
IDC Manufacturing Insights urges OEMs to collaborate with their technician network and software partners to evaluate the effectiveness of their current service information content and delivery mechanisms. Unless these processes are carefully examined for improvements, as technology evolves, the result may be detrimental: poor vehicle service performance, increased warranty costs, safety hazards, and ultimately a loss of customer loyalty.
For detailed study information and more on essential guidance, subscribers can access the full report "Service Information Is Critical to Combat Increasing Vehicle Service Complexity."