Cost-saving Serviceability Improvements to Rear Under-seat

Digital serviceability support from USE* Automotive promotes and enculturates a design for serviceability mindset into product development activities. USE* classify these services as SERP (Service Evaluation and Repair Process), reflecting both the competent expertise that we provide to support this function and our out of the box process toolset that we can deploy and adapt to any of our customers’ product development PLM systems.

This rear under seat environment example represents an example showing how these services have helped one of our OEM clients.

The Challenge

With the conception of a rear seat environment in the new luxury saloon car, USE* was requested by our client to consult with Product Design. Our task was to ensure that the vehicle’s complete under-seat package was designed with serviceability in mind. The fact that several critical components (relating to warranty, roadside repair, customer access, and high frequency service repairs) are all located within this area dictated that Service - and USE* - involvement was paramount.

Our challenge was to aid Product Design packaging these components in an intelligent and accessible way, both for our technicians and for the customer - all whilst adhering to the engineering design criteria.

The Solution

By integrating SERP support into the vehicle’s design cycle, it was possible to have a team evaluate and monitor the development of the under-seat environment. The team interacted with Product Design via routine package meetings and design reviews, as well as on an ad hoc basis when necessary.

The first area that needed investigation was the overall strategy that would be introduced, relating to how the rear under-seat environment would be accessed. Preliminary analysis highlighted that by using a folding-seat design access to the battery would be quick and tool free, and that this strategy would minimise the work content for various high frequency service repairs that require battery disconnection. As the design took shape, concentration was placed on the package and ergonomics of component access and service repair feasibility. Due to styling constraints, not all departments favoured the folding-seat concept, and in time it was decided the rear seats would be a stylised design rendering the folding-seat strategy untenable.

The next step was to look at the new seat design and recognise the hurdles which needed to be overcome. For customer and roadside feasibility, components would need to be accessed and manipulated without removing the seat. The USE* team then proposed a utilisation of the space and an arrangement of the components within it that would make it possible to package all components under only one seat in an intelligent fashion (shown above). This effective package was coupled to the introduction of a removable board which would allow access for service repairs.

Even so, as the battery would not be easily accessible, a significant challenge remained. The SERP team proposed that a battery disconnect switch should be introduced. This would mean that the battery need only be accessed if it was to be removed, with the switch allowing both technicians and roadside recovery agents to disconnect the battery without accessing it.

Its Benefits

The new design delivers very efficient labour times for high frequency service repairs involving battery disconnects. It also has a knock-on effect of increasing roadside repair feasibility (due to time reduction), allowing a wider range of repairs to fall into the roadside recovery timeframe. Both of these measures will deliver a direct result in terms of warranty cost avoidance. Lastly, the new package facilitated customer access to the fuse box, if needed.

Our Achievements

By developing the solution for this critical USE* Automotive, our clients avoided a substantial potential warranty cost.

Case Studies

Engineering Standards

Engineering Standards

‘Design for Service’ requirements from USE*
Rear Underseat Design

Rear Underseat Design

Cost effective high frequency repairs
USE* and New Technologies

USE* and New Technologies

‘Engineered in’ service strategies
US$164 million benefit

US$164 million benefit

Affirming the value of SERP with warranty data

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