AUTOCOM's diagnostics team is always on the road visiting factories, workshops, and suppliers to collect data for newer software versions. We asked a few questions of Christer Larsson, responsible for the diagnostics team.
Why do you go on the road?
All car models are not available in Sweden, and that's why it is important that recording and verification of data for our diagnostics software are performed in the countries where there is good availability of vehicle models. When we're out visiting the customer we can also pick up on special wishes and see how our software is used and works in its right environment. This way we get a good idea of what the market needs, enabling us to include as much as possible in future updates.
Who do you visit?
That differs depending on if they are developers working with our diagnostics program for automobiles (CARS) or for commercial vehicles (TRUCKS) who are on tour. Those who work with TRUCKS often visit freight companies, workshops, and sometimes rental companies, while those who work with CARS visit workshops and dealers for new and used cars.
How is the work done?
Our diagnostic programs have three releases a year. The time between each release is our work period. Each new period starts with us reviewing wishes from different customers and looking at which vehicle manufacturers have released new model years and vehicle models, respectively. That information, together with our own thoughts about the updates, is the foundation for planning the time and place for recording, testing, and verification of data.
To save time we prepare as much as possible of the work at AUTOCOM without access to the vehicles, for our sake but primarily for the sake of our partners. Preparing a system may take 3-5 work days and each vehicle has between 10-60 systems so it had not been possible to do this work on-site with our partners. Well on-site we review what vehicles are available and how long we can have them for tests. Often we have to prioritize on-site since there is not enough time to test all functions we have brought along. We treat the vehicles with respect and nurture our contacts with great care so that we are welcome for the next update. When we return home we compile everything and correct any problems we have not solved on-site. After the release, we start all over again.
What's best about being on the road?
The best about being on the road is to meet our partners and the users of our products. We get a lot of feedback from the users who help us solve problems and prevent errors. Then it is very important that we get to work hands-on with the vehicles. It is one thing to sit in the office and simulate different events. When you sit in the vehicle you do not know what answers to expect since all vehicles are individuals that may behave in different ways.
What uses do customers have of your work?
Direct contact with the users in the workshops gives us insight into their reality. We find out what is required for the workshops to be able to perform service and advanced repairs in a more effective way. This way we get the information we need to develop our products and, in the future, our customers get better tools for their work.
Have you encountered any cultural difficulties?
A lot of times it is the language that plays tricks on us when we are on the road. Especially in countries where not everyone speaks English. For example, when we were in Italy, and after a long day we wanted to order a big juicy steak. Hungry as wolves, we could see the waiter come in with a plate of grilled vegetables instead.