The combination of Firestone tires and Ford Explorers cost the two companies billions of dollars, damaged their reputations and?worst of all?apparently proved fatal. Patterns of tire failure and rollovers started emerging in Firestone’s and Ford’s warranty claim records years before anyone took notice of the trend, says James Intriligator, subject matter expert in the Innovation Center at Syncata, an El Segundo, Calif.-based software integrator.
A configurable solution developed by Syncata could help detect patterns of part failures before they hurt anyone. Called the Immune System, this group of nine primary software modules tracks and analyzes data?everything from government records to a company’s proprietary warranty claim information. It then detects patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Unfortunately, most analysis tools can’t decipher the handwritten explanatory notes alongside the part, problem and solution codes in claims databases. “A lot of rich information hides in that free text data,” Intriligator says. “In it, you’ll see things like ’The washer was frayed,’ or ’The hose seemed to have dried out and had a bad silicon connection.’” Using text analysis technology from HNC Software combined with neural networking tools, the Immune System ferrets out that critical information.
The Immune System has other applications besides detecting auto part failures and warranty fraud detection. It also works with nearly any manufacturing process, from building aircraft to making toasters, and the potential savings could be significant. “Catching [problems] earlier has all kinds of monetary benefits,” Intriligator says. “You don’t have to pay for all those repairs, and it’s years of bad parts you won’t have produced.”