New warranty software helps Ford build better cars to reduce software recalls

Ford Motor Company expects to see considerable savings when it rolls out its new warranty software, which will give Ford early warning of manufacturing and design faults by providing detailed vehicle repair and warranty information across its 12,000 dealerships worldwide.
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The software is named One Warranty Solution (OWS) and early trials show that Business Process Management (BPM) software like this will help identify repair trends that could point to design or manufacturing defects. This will enable Ford to correct these problems early, while they still affect only a small number of vehicles.

This new system not only improves build quality, but has other benefits for dealerships as well. It will provide dealerships with the ability to track each claim as it is processed. The software will also enable dealerships to communicate directly with Ford engineers regarding difficult repairs.

The biggest single problem with the old system, aside from the fact that it was written in Cobol,  was that it was designed for a time when information processing was more difficult and expensive. So, it would crop "nonessential" information when reports were passed up lines. This meant that Ford was getting only a fraction of the technical information on each repair, and a tremendous amount of important information was lost. There wasn't even a way of knowing how long a given vehicle had been in the shop for repairs. All this has been corrected. Not only will detailed information reach engineers, but they can communicate directly with technicians during repair cycles.

The new software is also flexible enough to manage the digital and analog nature of modern vehicles. It can handle software updates and take into account the differences in regulations between countries.

While there are still a number of challenges to overcome, such as completely different parts numbering systems between America, Asia and Europe, Ford intends to have the new system completely rolled out by 2018. When in place, hopefully after significant software testing is completed, the new system will provide massive cost savings from the assembly line all the way to the consumer and will put Ford on the leading edge of warranty fulfillment and customer service and hopefully reduce the number of major recalls due to software and design flaws.

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