Location intelligence – an auto industry game changer

location intelligence

With technology advances over the last decade, automotive businesses can now easily obtain enhanced location-based data – from within a facility and across the globe – that helps them make better-informed critical business decisions.

When used well, location-based data is a game changer. Location intelligence can enhance visibility at all levels of the business – supply chain, production, dealership, and predictive maintenance and recalls. It excels at revealing potential risks, real-time supply-chain issues, patterns causing bottlenecks in production, and opportunities for efficiency, optimization, more effective customer service and predictive maintenance.

Here are five ways automotive businesses can use location intelligence to optimize their business:

  • Manage and mitigate risk

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires can cause tremendous losses of inventory, especially for distribution centers and dealerships. Political instability, heightened travel and terrorism threats can also have a detrimental impact on supplier locations, affecting delivery of crucial automotive parts.

Businesses cannot prevent these calamities, but location intelligence that provides complete visibility into the events and their potential effect on supplier locations can help managers act quickly to mitigate – and even avoid – damage to vehicle inventory and other assets.

Direct alerts of hurricanes, major flooding and other events give dealerships extra time to make decisions and transfer incoming new car inventory to a safer location, avoiding millions of dollars in potential loss. Instant notification of any disruption in the supply chain, including threats near a supplier site, can allow managers to proactively switch to a secondary supplier before the vehicle production line is affected.

  • Upgrade supply chain management with enterprise visibility

Integrating data on one platform enhances location intelligence with real-time awareness of all risks affecting operations: information from satellites on severe storm watches; insights from expert analysts on geopolitical events, terrorism and travel threats; data from sensors tracking parts shipments or vehicle deliveries; and business data such as orders and production-planning events.

Complete enterprise visibility through data integration can keep products, operations, and supply chains moving efficiently. Staff can make better-informed – and typically fewer – decisions and respond quickly to the need at hand.

In the past, delays in receiving critical engine parts for planned production lines could immobilize automotive manufacturing. Now, logistics operators who know the location of these parts and their expected shipment routes across the globe can look at upcoming storms or even extensive traffic due to accidents or construction and determine the risk potential of late deliveries. Armed with full enterprise visibility and location intelligence, they can make informed rerouting decisions to avoid or minimize delays and help production continue as planned.

  • Spot issues inside production facilities

Just as global disruptions can cripple the supply chain, issues within a facility can jeopardize the entire production process and the final vehicle’s on-time delivery.

Real-time location intelligence can ensure production managers are quickly notified if a component is held up on the production line while waiting for a resource (automated or human) or another part or tool. Complete visibility from location intelligence helps production managers make quick decisions to correct bottlenecks before hours or even days are lost. It also helps them evaluate behavior patterns and propose changes to fix them.

Real-time visibility into a part’s shelf location, coupled with the part manufacturer’s warranty expiration date, can help staff quickly find the exact part needed and safeguard against mistakenly using parts with expired or nearly expired warranties. Then staff can track the location of each component off the shelf and throughout the production line to ensure vehicle safety by confirming that all required workflow steps and inspections have been executed.

Monitoring materials and subcomponent locations throughout the manufacturing process can increase efficiency and quality as well as limit the scope and impact of potential end-product recalls – protecting a company’s reputation and meeting customer safety requirements. Tracking tool locations within manufacturing facilities and service departments can also reduce time lost looking for tools and eliminate replacement costs for tools that cannot be found.

  • Keep track of keys, vehicles and customers at the dealership

At dealerships with large numbers of vehicles on multiple storage lots, vehicles and keys are often misplaced. Adding technology that tracks the location of each key and each car could help a salesperson quickly identify the key location, as well as the storage lot and precise location of a particular vehicle.  Managers could also use this location intelligence to support parking management and to ensure that the right mix of vehicles is available for customers to view.

With today’s ability to do extensive research online, customers often already know what vehicle they are interested in purchasing, or at least have it narrowed down, before getting to the dealership.  A new vehicle is a big purchase, though, and customers still need to touch and feel (and drive) before making the commitment to buy. After viewing the online research and pictures, the customer shows up at the dealership with excitement, anxious to take a test drive for confirmation and then make a deal. At this point, the key to the dealership’s success is customer service. Tracking people’s movement in and out of the building – as well as on the lot – can help managers make sure their sales team is addressing every customer. Location intelligence can also measure KPIs to keep wait times short and make sure a sale is not lost because a customer is neglected.

  • Predict maintenance and closely track recalls

Autonomous vehicles are capturing hundreds of petabytes of data, including location information.  Integrated with road network data, construction schedules and weather, this location data can provide valuable insight into the wear and tear on a vehicle to enrich the analytics for predictive maintenance.  Obtaining predictive maintenance analytics for vehicles by location can help ensure that the supply chain is capable of handling the upcoming service requests. In addition, temperature, humidity and other sensor data can be captured both during production and on the road and then analyzed to assist in finding the root cause of problems as they arise.

Materials traceability and complete process data can be used to determine who is responsible in warranty and recall cases.

Location, location, location

Location intelligence is a vital aspect of the automotive industry from the supply chain, through manufacturing and distribution, all the way to customer service at the dealership.  The vast amount of location intel available today – along with the decreased cost of sensors, tracking devices and infrastructure – means automotive companies can have more and more enhanced location-related data at their fingertips to optimize operations, reduce risk, increase efficiency, and better serve customers.

Kelli Knisely is a Senior Technical Architect in DXC Analytics Product Engineering. She has 20 years of experience in consulting, product engineering and development to meet client demands across a variety of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare and transportation.  In working with traditional and emerging partners, Kelli’s focus for DXC has been providing enterprise visibility for organizations based on location intelligence from IoT and disparate business systems, resulting in fewer, more informed business decisions to lower risk, reduce waste, and improve operations and efficiency.


  1. Phil Robinson says:

    Interesting article. How do you see this being applied across the health care sector?

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