Home Case Studies Nobo Automotive Systems Co., Ltd. Nobo Technologies joins hands with IBM to co-create a new generation of digital R&D management that empowers future vehicle design
Intelligent vehicle cockpit and wireless communication network concept.

Nobo Technologies and IBM worked together to create and deploy the IBM® Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM) solution, building a digital platform that can seamlessly integrate and efficiently manage software development. This helped Nobo accelerate product R&D innovation and align to international automotive development standards.

Automotive engineering is moving toward a new “Automotive 4.0” era. Starting from the product features and innovation defined by R&D in the Automotive 1.0 era, to the mechatronic vehicle manufacturing in the 2.0 era, followed by the digitization of products and processes along the global value chain in the 3.0 era, and ultimately the comprehensive digitization of R&D in the current 4.0 era, this transformation journey undoubtedly creates new challenges for today’s automotive development.

As technology continues to evolve and innovate, automobile R&D has become a huge yet non-quantifiable process. The continuous optimization of the R&D process will largely dictate the sustainable development of enterprises and maintain their competitiveness. Such a model, with the R&D process being the core and technology being the means, is gradually recognized by more and more companies. This puts forward increasing demand for R&D management. To effectively respond to market, customer and environmental pressures, it is therefore crucial to be able to collaborate (internally and externally) while seamlessly integrating different technologies that maximize value.

First, the pace of innovation is getting faster and faster, which becomes more and more reflected at the software level. The “Four Modernizations” trend within the Chinese automotive industry—electrification for EV, Internet of Vehicle (IoV) for connectivity, intelligent driving, and car-sharing—highlights the innovation of automotive electronic architecture, and embedded systems account for more than 90% of innovations and new functions. Software has become the key to defining automobiles. The R&D scale, process and team composition of enterprise software projects are also becoming increasingly complex and difficult to quantify.

Secondly, as innovation iteration accelerates, the difficulties of meeting quality management and compliance objectives continue to grow. There are more and more lines of code and complexity, which impose more stringent requirements on development, designing the end product in mind to ensure quality, safety, stability, reliability and confidentiality.

In order to cope with these challenges, Nobo Automotive Technologies Co., Ltd. (Nobo Technologies) and IBM jointly deployed the IBM Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM) solution to build a seamlessly integrated digital platform for efficient management of software development to accelerate product R&D innovation and align with international development practices.

Founded in 2019, Nobo Technologies is a high-tech company under Nobo Automobile that focuses on intelligent automotive software and hardware technologies and products. It is committed to providing global customers with system solutions that drive the future of travel. To prepare for the emerging development model of “crowdfunding,” Nobo Technologies has put scientific and efficient engineering life cycle management (ELM) on the agenda to continuously optimize R&D management, enhance competitiveness and promote sustainable development.

Previously, Nobo Technologies’ practice in software requirements and test management mostly consisted of offline operation and manual procedures. Since 2021, as Nobo Technologies’ business continues to expand, products are rapidly mass-produced, and globalization is accelerated—thus the number of employees has increased nearly 10 times since the establishment of the company. Traditional process management methods such as paper documents are difficult to adapt to the current pace of development.  In particular:

  • Problem 1: Traditional process management is like “drawing a conclusion on the basis of partial understanding.”

There are considerable risks in relying solely on manual management, including missing requirements in the process, lag in sharing, poor process control and an inability to visualize information. Employees cannot effectively synchronize information and collaborate in real time without a transparent and visual process—in test management alone, about 95% of the information was managed offline word processing and spreadsheets—resulting in a poor experience and low efficiency. It is also difficult for management to dynamically track project progression. Nobo Technologies needs a collaborative infrastructure that can improve work efficiency and optimize costs to collect and manage all “scattered" data and processes.

  • Problem 2: Current tools cannot support a large number of test cases.

XRAY plug-in, the online Jira lightweight test management tool that Nobo Technologies used previously, cannot support the management of more than 80,000 test cases. The link process is cumbersome and incurred additional labor costs. As a result, Nobo Technologies needs to establish a complete automated testing process including test case management to shorten the development iteration cycle.

  • Problem 3: Requirements and tests cannot be traced.

One of the disadvantages of traditional manual operation is that it is impossible to get a comprehensive view of the entire project through bi-directional traceability of requirements and tests. Nobo Technologies previously recorded requirements and test data through spreadsheets, which may reveal missing information. However, that approach could not confirm whether the information was properly and successfully traced. In addition, with the rapid development of the company, the number of isolated platforms and tools was also increasing, which made it extremely difficult to meet the reuse objective for product diversification, platformization and vehicle family models. Therefore, Nobo Technologies needs to establish the capabilities of requirement management and requirement traceability to achieve closed-loop, requirements-based development of the entire product development lifecycle.

10% reduction

Plan to implement cost investment through ELM

Integrating with international R&D management and becoming a mainstream OEM supplier is an important goal of Nobo. We hope to use tool and platform innovation to help improve R&D capabilities, management level and work efficiency. Qiao Xianguang Vice President Nobo Automotive Systems Co., Ltd.
IBM and Nobo Technologies work together to create, build and solidify business processes

IBM ELM is the market-leading solution for efficient R&D management, consisting of systems and software engineering management tools that provide full lifecycle development management from early design to final vehicle inspection and certification. It also helps manage automotive compliance and compliance with regulatory requirements outlined by standards, including Automotive SPICE (ASPICE), ISO-26262, SOTIF, ISO/SAE 21434 and WP.29.

Based on a comprehensive evaluation of functions, scalability, process support (ASPICE, ISO26262, ISO21434), trial experience, implementation capabilities, server architecture, after-sales service and price/performance, Nobo Technologies chose to build seamless integration based on IBM ELM, a digital platform that can manage software development efficiently and flexibly.

In this project, IBM adhered to the concept of co-creation and introduced relevant teams from IBM Technology and IBM Consulting® to work together to provide the end-to-end customized solutions for Nobo Technologies. In the early stage of the project, based on the best practices of IBM ELM from a large domestic car company, the IBM Consulting team closely followed Nobo Technologies’ needs for internationalization and jointly discussed whether it could meet the current needs of its business processes and meet the requirements of industry standards such as ASPICE. Under this agreement, IBM helped Nobo Technologies successfully build the ELM tool platform and solidify its business processes.

During the project implementation phase, IBM provided multiple rounds of technical trainings to the Nobo Technologies development team and helped smoothly transfer existing secondary development programs into the ELM platform. Adhering to the concept that “tools need to serve people,” Nobo Technologies fully promoted ELM learning internally, and continued to optimize system processes through continuous practice and user feedback.

Zhao Xiaokai, General Manager of the IBM Sustainability Software in Greater China Group, explains: “Unlike some suppliers who just migrated existing processes, templates and data into the system, IBM worked closely with Nobo Technologies early at the communication stage to reorganize its business process, with Nobo’s business goals being the ‘lighthouse’ throughout the project. The entire project involves multiple departments of Nobo Technologies, their forward-looking thinking and strong execution of digital transformation, as well as in-depth communication and collaboration with the IBM team. Co-creation is the key to the smooth implementation of the project, which can be said to be a perfect reflection of ‘joining hands to create.’”

Chen Lishun, Deputy General Manager of R&D at Nobo Technologies,adds: “What impresses me about this cooperation is that IBM not only empowers Nobo Technologies in terms of tool configuration, but also brings us an advanced set of tools that are deeply integrated with business processes and management methods. This requires not only the service capabilities of innovative tools, but also a rich reserve of consulting experience. This complete, end-to-end cooperation model can help us streamline the R&D process more effectively while uncovering the full potential to the value of IBM ELM.”

IBM ELM helps Nobo Technologies build an intelligent and automated R&D management platform

After more than a year of implementation, Nobo Technologies and IBM have jointly built an ELM framework suitable for multiple product lines and multiple model platform project management methods. Among them, requirements management and design management have deployed four types of requirement modules, including system, software, hardware, and structure, and designed 24 types of itemized requirement artifacts, which contain about 90 types of field attributes. Taking smart cockpit IN9.0 as an example, traceability of upper and lower levels of requirements, left and right levels of requirements and test cases have been completed, and the complete traceability chain covering customer needs, system SRS requirements, system architecture design, software requirements and software architecture design is clearly visible.

The new system has been fully in use since April 2023, and has now implemented 11 online business processes, including project management, problem management, release management, change management and quality management. Taking the online process form as an example, Nobo Technologies has rolled out about 70 forms, 50% of the basic output requirements for product development have gone online, and ASPICE processes are now more than 80% online. This lays a solid foundation for the development of full lifecycle management and the realization of cost reduction and efficiency improvement goals (reducing cost investment by 10%), such as:

  • At the requirements management level, most work has been put into the online system, reports can be processed automatically, and management or auditors can share work progress and status in real time.
  • At the test management level, unlike the previous practice, which may take two weeks to a month to understand the progress, the test results are now uploaded and refreshed daily, and relevant personnel can examine the entire test progress at any time.
  • For bi-directional traceability, requirements in DNG (DOORS Next Generation, DOORS Next Requirements Management Module) and test instances in ETM (Engineering Test Management, Engineering Test Management Module) can be linked in real time, and the traceability status can be clearly seen in the report.

In addition, the teams from both parties jointly completed the integration of ELM with the existing project tool Jira, communication tool DingTalk, BOM and change management system NPCP, software static scanning library Sonarqube, and code library Gerrit. In particular:

  • By setting up IBM Engineering Integration Hub between the ELM platform and Jira, Nobo Technologies has achieved real-time, two-way synchronization of defect work items between ELM and Jira.
  • With the help of an MQ message plug-in and a secondarily developed function package, ELM notifications can be pushed to the DingTalk account of associated users in real time, including work item changes (such as upcoming overdue, overdue tasks), work item approval and other notifications. Managers can also complete the approval directly in DingTalk.
  • When developers submit their code, filling in the ELM task ID will trigger the script to automatically add the Gerrit link in the ELM task to achieve two-way traceability of tasks and code.
  • NPCP synchronizes the required change analysis tickets to the NPCP system through the OSLC interface provided by ELM and synchronizes the analysis results back to ELM. Finally, NPCP synchronizes the execution status information of ECR ​​and ECO back to ELM when executing changes. ELM serves as a report management system that allows users to view the changes and status briefly.
  • By developing interface programs, one can access the background Sonar database and generate ELM-specific widget interfaces that can then display Sonar charts in the dashboard of the ELM platform.

“In the process of digital transformation, tools play a role in solidifying processes and improving efficiency, and the most important part is often talent,” Xiaokai says. “Through full cooperation with the IBM consulting team, we perfectly integrated IBM’s many years of insights and experience in the automotive industry with customer building processes, and brought the integrated advantages of original factory implementation to customers. We are happy to see Nobo Technologies build an efficient and intelligent R&D platform and its R&D team with the help of IBM ELM.  With strong secondary development capabilities, Nobo can continuously improve and optimize business processes and tool operation methods, enhance user experience, and become an intelligent benchmark for R&D management in the industry.”

As automobile research and development moves toward the fully digital and intelligent Automotive 4.0 era, IBM ELM, with its more mature and replicable implementation path, helps industry companies strengthen their R&D processes and optimize their management systems, while improving research and development speed and quality, shortening product development cycles. As a result, companies can come out as leaders among the increasingly fierce market competition.

Nobo logo
About Nobo Automotive Systems Co., Ltd.

Nobo Automotive Systems Co., Ltd. (link resides outside of ibm.com) is a leading provider of intelligent cockpit system solutions in China. It has been deeply involved in the component parts industry for 29 years. It has systematic and independent product development R&D, production systems and scientific strategic layout planning. It has more than 10,000 employees local and abroad. Employees can provide customers with safe, comfortable, intelligent and differentiated system solutions, continue to meet customer needs by creating a good travel experience and competitive cost advantages, and actively promote the global intelligent transformation of automotives.

About Nobo Automotive Technologies Co., Ltd.

Nobo Automotive Technologies Co., Ltd. (link resides outside of ibm.com) is an automotive electronics high-tech enterprise under Nobo Automotive, focusing on the field of intelligent cockpit, intelligent vehicle control, intelligent Internet connection and intelligent driving. The products cover cockpit domain controller, display, instrument, infotainment system, central electronic unit, T-BOX, driving domain controller and other categories. With independent R&D capability, it can provide global customers with system solutions that drives future vehicle traveling.

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