Beyond Smart Cars: Smart Car Production

Larry Stolle

By now we’ve all heard of smart vehicles, which are cars that are enabled with sensors, networks, communication interfaces, and other tools. These will one day replace more accident-prone human drivers. The result? Safer, more efficient roads.

Of course, driverless cars are not infallible; recent minor crashes of Google’s self-driving car prove that. Still, the concept of cars that talk to one another is powerful, and could reduce accidents and traffic and improve road performance.

These visions of the future go beyond cars that know how to accelerate, brake, and turn for you. They also extend to the production of these newfangled cars. Believe it or not, how we manufacture cars matters a great deal to their efficiency. Transformations in automotive manufacturing software, computer crash simulation technology, and automotive industry standards will play a major part in the cars of the future.

Below we’ll look at the most important aspects of new car production. We will consider the role that smart plants will play and how logistics will change the building, scheduling, and maintenance of cars. We will also consider what supply-side coordination means for the auto industry.

Smart plants

Building better cars is about more than ensuring they’re safe and effective on the road. Automotive quality management starts at the plant.

Automotive industry trends are headed toward “smart plants.” These will use vehicle analytics based on sensor data to construct better vehicles. Each iteration will use information from the previous one to ensure smarter, safer cars. Car design software will coordinate spare parts, work, and logistics. A digital automotive network will enable better service and coordination with plants.

The systematic management of data offers other perks as well. Auto designers will have greater visibility of plant operations as well as better remote monitoring and control. They will also experience better production systems and faster issue resolution.


Cars are multifaceted objects, and their production requires massive coordination of information and data. Even the environmental friendliness of hybrid cars has been called into question. This makes it important to create cars that reduce environmental impact and solve problems. One way to do this is to be smarter about the production process.

Logistics are a crucial part of any operation. The automotive network logistics hub will need to manage vehicle-related inbound and outbound traffic. Distribution, upgrades, and servicing will be carefully tracked. This will enable more efficient processes at the plant and at the service level. People will receive cars that match their needs sooner. They will also enjoy faster, smarter service.

Other benefits: Each customer or single point car dealer will be able to track cars and parts with ease. This enables better warranty and claims management, keeps customers happy, and ensures better relationships at the dealership level.

Both inbound and outbound logistics will rely on company or cloud-based systems. Automotive enterprise resources planning software will be crucial to production and commerce. Automotive supplier relationships and the automotive manufacturing process will both depend on smart software. It must meet the needs of manufacturers, dealers, and customers.

In order to best meet these needs, supply-side coordination will be crucial.

Supply-side coordination

Matching supply and demand is critical to a well-functioning automotive industry. It can ease market volatility and reduce inventory that is dormant with high carrying costs. The effect is better procurement and distribution. This helps reduce waste and dissatisfaction all around.

The definition of supply-side economics holds that the best way to create a booming economy is to make it easy to produce goods and offer services. We believe it is more complicated than that. Coordinating automotive suppliers is key: Smart plants must talk to dealers, dealers must communicate with customers, and all must use data from service providers. This offers the best chance of a robust, streamlined, and waste-free economy.

Automotive product life-cycle management will also benefit. Tracking each stage of production, sales, and use is crucial, offering information about what works and what doesn’t. It will help providers tweak models or completely reimagine them. And it will enable various manufacturers to work together toward common goals.

Traffic safety is one example. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration collates vast quantities of traffic data every year. Coordinating this data with supply-side efforts will make cars safer from the get-go.

In other words, ensuring the automotive industry offers the right supply will make roads a safer, smarter, better place to be.

A budding future

To learn more about digital transformation in the automotive industry, click here.

Larry Stolle

About Larry Stolle

Larry Stolle is the senior global marketing director for the Automotive Industry at SAP. He has over 45 years of experience in the automotive industry with experience, ranging from dealerships to manufacturers and importers to technology companies such as IBM. Stolle currently holds two patents for dealer and manufacturer communications and for quality insights.