Since the birth of the car industry there have been disagreements as to who is responsible for damage or missing parts on finished vehicles. Now a camera-based system can review and objectively ascertain damage liability from almost any angle in seconds, drastically speeding up vehicle inspection and the claims management process.
The Auto-scan system from technology company DeGould, uses a series of high-resolution smart cameras in conjunction with intelligent lighting and rapidly moving doors to scan vehicles in around 5 seconds, a process that can take as much as five minutes with a manual inspection.
A reliance on manual inspections for claims management can be slow and inefficient. Surveying tends to be limited to daylight hours, which hinders operational effectiveness. The new Auto-scan booths offer consistent reliability and work effectively in all weather conditions.
The background of the Auto-scan is explained by Ed Jones, CEO of the company: “The product idea started out in the car rental sector after the founder Dan Gould witnessed an argument between a customer and a rental agent over whether the damage on the vehicle was there before the rental or not, and thought there must be a better system. Product development had already started for the rental car market but it was Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Finished Vehicle Distribution who actually knocked on the door and pointed out that the product could be really useful at the end of the production line where the OEM hands the car to the supply chain and wants to know, ‘Is that fault or damage a warranty issue or is it the responsibility of the supply chain?’
Jones explains the development of the system as evolving organically, and by some simple logic. “We thought that as we were able to capture great images of a vehicle, why don’t we start analysing those images and automatically identify if there is damage or if there’s missing parts; and even if the specification is wrong. It was a logical next step to go into all areas of a customer’s supply chain. At Southampton port we now have five booths in different locations at the port. Some are to handle imports and some for export. JLR have embraced the Auto-scan booths because they realise the added benefits they can achieve in their global port process.”
Manual inspection of cars is subject to normal human frailties as Jones tells me: “Because of the subjectivity and human error only a percentage of damage is often found, particularly in poor conditions or in more difficult areas like underbody and roof. We also learnt that some vehicles would sit for two or three days before an inspection so there’s still an element of doubt over who caused any damage that is found in the traditional way.”
Words by Simon Duval Smith.
Published by Automotive Purchasing and Supply Chain Magazine.