Why Agile Development should be a priority for Automakers

Through regular tests and feedback, it becomes easier to identify problems quickly and correct those.


By Khalid Wani

Digital technology has led to a massive disruption across industries and the automotive industry is no stranger to this trend. The industry has embraced new technologies with open arms and disrupted itself, with vehicles now rich with technically advanced features.

No wonder, modern automobiles have been referred to as data centers on wheels. As vehicles continue to become more and more sophisticated, with ever more artificial intelligence (AI) embedded into them, it calls for the implementation of newer methods and systems, and the latest technologies in their design and manufacturing practices.  In short, the automotive industry must adopt an agile development process.

Winner Takes All

About 20 years ago, the agile development process began as a set of values and practices for creating software. Some of the core agile principles include creating numerous product iterations, constant communication between developers and customers, continual evaluation of progress, and embracing changing requirements. The agile approach helped in creating efficiencies in many industries. Likewise, it can assist automakers in improving testing, design, and access to components. This can ultimately help in bringing cars or vehicles enriched with advanced technologies and features to market more quickly. 

Moreover, agile practices help in driving complexity and inefficiency out of the manufacturing process and therefore lead to cost savings. Companies with skilled agile processes acquire competitive advantages and can navigate sharp market fluctuations better than the ones without agile workflows. How are companies with agile processes more efficient? They work in tandem with their partners and customers, more processes of theirs occur simultaneously, and therefore the pace of production increases which helps in driving down costs and rising profits.

Agile Practices:  The Progressive Next Step

Performing important developmental tasks simultaneously is a critical attribute of an agile process, as opposed to alternate processes where tasks are done one after the other; for example, in these processes’ tests are only conducted when product development is completed. This is why other processes are way slower than an agile process, where testing is done during most of the development lifecycle with the help of every person on the team. An agile process also involves receiving feedback from all the stakeholders, including customers and partners during various development stages to ensure that the output is what the customer wants.

Through regular tests and feedback, it becomes easier to identify problems quickly and correct those. This also helps in understanding and even predicting how advancements in semiconductors, sensors, and data storage technology might enhance the final product.

Another critical feedback loop for the global storage maker is with automotive systems designers – helping them calculate a car’s potential data workload accurately. Without planning ahead when vehicle systems are being designed, a car could end up wearing out the storage in an ADAS, or an eCockpit, or infotainment system before the car’s life is over. The endurance of the storage device depends on the amount of data written (measured in terabytes), which varies based on the capacity of storage. Every device has a limit, so it is important to determine the data write requirements based on real system workloads over the lifetime of the vehicle.

Chips, AI, and Digital Twins

Semiconductors, AI, and Digital twins are becoming increasingly critical for automakers today. Smart carmakers are building stronger ties with semiconductor suppliers and are leveraging modern semiconductor processes to place a higher premium on their cars. Whereas AI has begun to play a crucial role in transforming car manufacturing. AI in the form of machine learning (ML) enables digital twin technology, which is the process of creating a virtual model of a physical object or system. These objects or systems, connected through sensors, provide real-time data about their condition or performance, and as a result modification, or updates are made in real-time. Tests could also be conducted virtually which can enable better, and more informed decisions based on the results. This helps in reducing cost and time to market as opposed to dictated by physical tests. 

The agile process also helps in transforming the mentality regarding manufacturing and development and instills a more technology-driven mindset. This can help in staying relevant in today’s technology-driven world.

The Author is Senior Director, Sales, India, Western Digital.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited.

Get live Share Market updates and latest India News and business news on Financial Express. Download Financial Express App for latest business news.

First published on: 26-03-2023 at 09:00 IST