As automotive manufacturers continue to accelerate the pace of electrification within their industry, it may surprise you that this might not be the greatest challenge facing these manufacturers, their technology partners and their internal IT departments.

While electrification does indeed present its own challenges arising out of collaborative and joint venture R&D efforts (note the recent JV between Jaguar and BMW), it also brings with it new and evolving supply chain elements, new manufacturing processes and new and modified facilities and equipment. However, this is in large part simply more of the same, and automotive internal IT departments and their technology partners are familiar with much, if not all, of what this entails.

The greater challenge automotive manufacturers face is in the fast-moving evolution of connected vehicles and the resultant volume of associated vehicle and driver data. This rapid evolution of connected vehicles is the most disruptive trend in the automotive industry today.

Data relating to both vehicle and driver must be collected, contextualized, stored, analyzed, shared and acted upon. Unlike the smaller data sets in the past, collected from engine control units for diagnosis and repair, today’s vehicles generate orders of magnitude more data, and a manufacturer’s fleet of in-service connected vehicles may generate several hundred gigabytes of data every day. To appreciate the scale of this challenge, Gartner research predicted that by 2020, there will be more than 250 billion connected vehicles on the road.  

Some commentators are predicting that autonomous cars will create up to 4,000 gigabytes (GB) of data per day – that’s over 1,400 terabytes (TB) of data per year.

Manufacturers, now in addition to deciding what data to collect, now also need to consider the management of these vast quantities of data. Traditional infrastructures may not be able to handle the variety of inputs, analysis to be undertaken, sharing/collaboration requirements and security considerations. Legacy IT was not designed to support the emerging in-service demands now being made of it.

This is where digital transformation steps in: Smart Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, IoT, IIoT, Cloud, Edge and component-based modular systems are all now increasingly a part of this new technology landscape. Collectively, these technologies and approaches will enable manufacturers to not only meet, but excel, in meeting the next generation information challenges in automotive manufacturing.

About ATS Global

As a Critical Manufacturing global Consulting Partner, ATS Global offers solutions for smart digital transformation. Established in 1986, ATS Global has evolved their expert automation, quality and IT portfolio to suit customers across a broad range of industries. ATS Global is based in the Netherlands.

Mr. Barnes can be reached at