Despite the challenges faced by the automotive industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, HORIBA MIRA stated that one encouraging takeaway has been the marked shift toward contactless, remote engineering services.

As part of the nationwide lockdown, this March saw the automotive industry close factories and re-evaluate new product development plans. Vehicle manufacturers were faced with the prospect of postponing, or abandoning, critical programs, which the company says put their viability at risk unless new and effective working practices could be enacted quickly.

HORIBA MIRA, an engineering, test, and development consultancy, says it was able to stay one step ahead of the problems caused by the virus with a practical solution, enabling a wide range of vehicle engineering services to be conducted remotely in "real time." The result of which, according to the company, has helped to minimize disruption for the sector, while sparking a widespread acceleration of the adoption of next-generation development processes.

“The coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption for the automotive industry, testing our normal working practices and forcing us to adapt in new ways,” said Richard Adams, Head of Global Sales for Verification and Validation at HORIBA MIRA. “Yet while it might be a challenging time, it is important to note there are still positives to report. One such example is the rise of remote, ‘contactless’ engineering services. Although we’ve provided this capability for over a decade, the offering has never been as popular, as customers seek to continue with vital vehicle development programs. Crucially, while these recent decisions may have initially been taken on a needs-must basis, many of our customers are now realizing the multiple benefits afforded by taking this approach.”

The company’s end-to-end contactless services include the use of "secured" live data, remote re-flashing, wearable cameras, and CCTV in laboratory settings, which it says enables offsite customer teams to drive the development process in real-time.

“Fundamentally, a huge benefit lies in the flexibility of remote engineering services,” said Adams. “At HORIBA MIRA, the delivery team could be entirely resourced by our engineers, or a blend of OEM, and tier one and two stakeholders as the program dictates at different times. This way, program leaders, often with multiple teams operating in global locations, are able to maintain a meaningful understanding of the development status for each program without the need to send oversized teams to witness the development process; a feat which has proved crucial amid COVID-19. The end-result is a faster technical iteration rate at a lower cost. To ensure our industry emerges with the best toolset possible to respond to this crisis and grow, now is the time to recognize the benefits associated with remote engineering services and embed these into our future systems of working. There’s no doubt that there will be more change to come for the automotive sector as we look to meet the challenge of driving forward in a post-pandemic world, however this notable shift toward remote engineering services marks the defining chapter in a positive legacy toward mainstream adoption.”

HORIBA MIRA holds accreditations with both Cyber Essentials and TISAXS, recognizing the well-established, secure network by which it operates its remote testing services.

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