At ASI, Project Delivery Manager's role is to ensure test and analysis are performed as per standards as well as client’s requirement and deliver the report along with data (Raw and Processed) on time to meet project’s milestone. In past few years, while successfully delivering various advanced benchmarking projects to many OEMs, we kept thin-slicing the delay markers to understand how we can improve efficiency and optimize the time taking steps in complete process.
Understanding events in Test Cycle
To understand this lifecycle better, we broke the steps into 4 areas that impact this process.
Zone 1- Test Execution- High time consumption
Zone 2- Analysis and Reporting- High time consumption
Zone 3- Outcome and Analysed data review – Moderate time consumption
Zone 4- Project closure- Low time consumption
For last 30 years, after introduction of latest data loggers and sensors in the industry, handling of data is one critical aspect which has remained unchanged more or less. Some progress has been seen with improvement at basic level using files saved in folder structures or using simple file management tools.
Time line for Zone 2 and Zone 3 is increasing day by day as in recent years- testing, analysis and reporting are happening at different places and each requires a synchronized co-ordination and availability of data. Zone 2 and 3 require further thin-slicing to understand the impact of data and its handling on project timeline and an informative decision making.
Understanding gravity of Data Handling, Management & Co-ordination
Let’s take an example of a project: 6 vehicles were tested and compared for more than 150 tests for different categories of tests like NVH, Thermal, Brakes, Vehicle Dynamics etc. Completing this kind of activity in only three months throws various challenges which are not very different from the challenges faced by testing departments of any OEM. We at ASI have overcome these problems using our in-house developed software ASI Datalab.
In the project carried out in 2018, we have delivered data through our Datalab software whereas in 2016 we used to deliver through clients’ FTP server. Data Uploading, downloading and viewing result on ftp used to take almost 10-12 hrs hours for each activity of upload and download of each type of tests. Then there were issues of sharing data and reports for discussion among different teams at client's end. Below table highlights the output from each zone and challenges faced by OEMs in data handling.
All the above challenges are answered by ASI Datalab, but in this blog we will discuss about four cases listed below, where we were able to save 70-80% of time and hence money.
- Number of steps for data accessibility
- Data cloning
- Ease of data access/changes
- Ease of data search and Uniform Hierarchy
CASE-I (Number of steps for data accessibility)
In 2016 project, we used to deliver comparative results in excel format and raw data in RPCIII and/or UFF format. Many times, customers used to ask for changes in report and graphs. The typical process to do changes and send report is shown below.
In 2018 this changed, we carried out the same process using “ASI Datalab pin feature” and shared with client’s users as per following steps
In this we reduced number of steps from 7 to 4 and time reduced by 70%. Again, since we all were using same data it enabled faster accessing and availability of reports.
OEM Scenario: - Test Data always lies on test laptop/desktop or in folder accessible to closed group of users, single change request requires full follow up of all the above 7 steps.
CASE-II (Data cloning)
As discussed earlier, while carrying out projects in 2016, we used to deliver report/raw data through ftp, for which same data copied at different location (almost 8 locations) at different stages as shown below.
We overcame this problem by using Datalab, which works on server (Local/ASI server/Customer online server) and client (any web browser) where all data like report/raw & processed/test pictures etc are stored on server and accessible through online link. All data is kept in an original format and in secured manner. In this process, data is copied at only two locations, first by test engineer on testing laptop and another at server, from where data is accessible to analysis engineer, delivery manager, IT engineer of client, SPOC of Project, Analysis/ Test engineer and data users from various teams. Different access level (Read, Write, Update and Delete) can be given to different users before starting of the project.
OEM Scenario: - Data is copied at multiple location/computers.
CASE-III (Ease of data access)
In project carried out in 2016, at different stages of project we used to present the updates to clients for work performed. During one presentation we were presenting result for steering effort. In the report, we were showing the overlaid graphs of steering effort and steering angle. But one engineer asked us to show the hysteresis graph (Steering angle Vs Effort). Since raw data and compatible software licence was not available in laptop, we were unable to show the changes. We requested testing team member to send the updated slides which took almost 4 hours.
Where as in project we worked on, in 2018, we were able to overcome this problem by using ASI Datalab, which for visualization, analysis does not require any extra licences of software, we were able to make changes in visualization graph and analysis during meeting. We created “log in” credentials for clients and they were able to make changes in graph and analysis according to their internal formats.
OEM Scenario: - Limited licence of dedicated software leads to looped discussion and high Turn Around Time for new requirements in report.
CASE-IV (Ease of data search and Uniform Hierarchy)
In Project carried out in 2016, every test engineer used to make his own folder hierarchy (Project name> Vehicle Name> Test Category> Test name> Test Conditions). Naming style like use of upper and lower case, abbreviation etc were different and engineer depended. It was very difficult to search any data for particular test and test conditions.
Whereas in a similar project carried out in 2018, we used ASI Datalab where Hierarchy is created by delivery manager before the project starts. Uniformity is always maintained. Data searchability was improved using predefined tags like, vehicle name, test name etc.
OEM Scenario: - Test data is always saved in individual user defined folder structure.
Impact of ASI Datalab on our process
Today every project we do, we are able to save about 50-70% of time out of zone 2 and zone 3 just by handling and analyzing data in Datalab platform. This has resulted in improved efficiency and utilization of resources with reduction in effort and hassle for testing projects.
These percentages are based on project work done by ASI, similar percentage reduction have been observed in multiple testing projects.