Words by Simon Duval Smith.
I ask Jones what he feels the system really means to OEMs and other parties in the supply chain, in terms of cost savings. He says, “Some of the savings are softer benefits but most are more definite and calculable. A percentage of damage gets charged back to the warranty, or enters the supply chain when it perhaps shouldn’t have. If a fault or damage is detected further down the supply chain, the system allows rapid review of the images taken, all the way back to the end of the production line. This allows the OEM to identify and correct in-plant production processes; and in the same way, provides a logistics company with information to improve their handling process.
With the mention of AI comes the question of the connectivity of booths located many miles, or even hundreds of miles apart. They are connected in several ways as Jones explains: We have what we call Auto-scan, where the vehicle enters a booth, either on a conveyor at the end of the production line, or as a drive-in system in the inspection area often before any transport protection is added to the vehicle. The next logical place our system is used is at the outbound port, which in the JLR case is exactly where the Wallenius Whilemsen booths are in Southampton. On the other side of the same port, we digitally inspect BMW and mini imports off vessels and before and after their PDI. For them, it is an invaluable quality check, at the point at which the shipping line hands the vehicle over to the port terminals and before they are given to the trucking companies. With a growing network of global ports installing DeGould auto-scans, we create a ‘digital vehicle passport’ in our dashboard portal so customers can see the quality and condition of their vehicle right through the supply chain.
We return to the importance of clear and defined handover points, and how they need to be carefully chosen to ensure the real benefits of scanning booth technology are achieved, as Jones says. “If you’ve got the images at the right checkpoint then that’s the handover from a liability point of view. We work with our partners to identify the correct points and this allows them to capture the data they require to assign responsibility for improvement activities.”
Jones tells me a couple of gems of information about DeGould’s future, “We have just had significant investment from the US and I am sure that will start opening up opportunities to work with more carmakers. We are ambitious to grow and are very confident our system can deliver benefits throughout the vehicle supply chain: from OEMs to logistics companies, ports and vehicle remarketing operators. We are on the verge of opening an operation in the US, potentially a huge market for us, and we have already had a great deal of interest in what we are doing. The AI capabilities of the new systems are gaining huge interest and I feel most OEMs and operators now agree this type of inspection in the future”.