By Carlos Pinheiro Guimaraes, CTO - head of SAP Technology and Innovation at Hitachi Consulting and Ahmed Khan, Senior Director, Platform Technology at Hitachi Consulting

In the automotive industry, several technologies are coming together to help companies through a digital transformation. For anyone responsible for delivering quality to the customer, this is good news. We’re talking about managing quality from design to delivery. Technology is now available to help address the challenges around the increasing speed of manufacturing coupled with the demand for customized products, both of which are stretching the limits of manually-based quality control systems.

The solution

Hitachi Consulting has combined two powerful analytical processes — real-time automated visual inspections and predictive quality control — into an integrated, end-to-end predictive quality solution. Hitachi Predictive Quality and Automated Visual Inspections bring together artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the internet of things (IoT), robotic process automation, video analytics and smart cameras all in one solution to ensure that your products meet your quality standards from design to delivery.

The solution combines business context information from SAP S/4HANA with operational data culled in real time from connected sensors and cameras on the manufacturing floor. This enables you to monitor goods as they’re being produced. By integrating all these technologies, we’ve created a powerful solution that combines predictive analytics around the quality KPIs managed in the production envelope with the automation of visual inspection, providing you with detailed quality and production insights. Because the solution runs on SAP Cloud Platform and Google Cloud, manufacturers can take advantage of the native integration of S/4HANA with connected assets on the edge and at the same time leverage the unique visual analytics capabilities from Google, all in one seamless application.

The speed at which the data can be collected and analyzed can reduce the bottlenecks that result from manual inspections, increasing speed on the assembly line as well as quality outcomes, ultimately improving the customer experience. Our automated visual inspection, combined with real-time performance monitoring of production equipment, can help you reduce scrap, rework and unplanned downtime; rationalize maintenance; and optimize the entire production cycle.

How it works

Here’s how it works: If a machine on an assembly line isn’t working well, Hitachi Predictive Quality will pick up the signs and predict in real time the possible implications for quality and production planning. At the same time, smart cameras are scanning the conveyor belt for defective products. When defects are detected, they are automatically analyzed with powerful algorithms to identify the probable causes and proactively suggest the actions to prevent a repeat of the issues. Because you catch quality problems early, you can prevent those problems from propagating.

What does that mean when it comes to delivering quality automotive products to your customers? It means improved quality management from design to delivery, with fewer manual processes. It also means improving productivity by augmenting human visual inspectors with automated visual inspections. Not only does this speed your time to market, it frees up employees to leverage their skills and experience for more strategic tasks.

And that’s just the beginning. Now, instead of simply reacting to quality concerns on the following day, you can predict outcomes and make intelligent improvements in real time, based on various scenarios. Assembly lines will have fewer bottlenecks and breakdowns, worker productivity will increase, and the output of quality goods will also increase. With Hitachi Predictive Quality and Automated Visual Inspections, you can predict outcomes based on data directly from the assembly line. Smart cameras view and analyze your entire production to verify that each product is being produced to specifications and in the most efficient way possible.

Come see our demo

Want to see it in action? We invite you to visit us at the Best Practices for Automotive conference in Detroit, October 6 through 8. We’ll walk you through a demonstration of an auto parts manufacturer planning work orders, pushing them to execution, and monitoring operations and equipment in real time. You’ll see how we incorporate IoT sensors and smart cameras to produce images, analyze those images, locate problems, trigger alerts, determine root causes, and even suggest potential solutions — all without human intervention. And, you’ll see how it all works together to help you predict quality outcomes.

It’s just one more way we’re helping our customers transform their operations for the digital economy.

We look forward to meeting you in Detroit.

Learn more about how Hitachi and SAP work together to transform your business.