LAS VEGAS — Epicor Software Corp. has launched a "first-in-the-industry" predictive analytics software that it claims would allow aftermarket parts distributors and auto repair shops to predict what clients and customers will need before they need it.
Epicor debuted the two programs — Epicor Predictive Inventory Assistant (PIA) and Predictive Maintenance Assistant (PMA) — during the AAPEX in Las Vegas ahead of a planned fourth-quarter rollout.
The company said both programs use Epicor's aftermarket product content engine and connected data network, combined with predictive modeling and deployment technology, to give users real-time parts inventory and offer service and repair intelligence.
The firm worked with Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp. and MicroStrategy Inc. on its development.
Epicor said the PIA is the "industry's first intelligent inventory management solution," and uses machine learning technology to offer shops stocking recommendations based on what similar stores are using.
The program considers data such as growth, size, geographic location, urbanization level and the local car parc to recommend to shops specific parts that they don't have in stock but that are driving sales at other, similar stores.
Epicor's PMA software "takes recommended maintenance really to the next level," Tim Hardin, senior vice president of global automotive, data, and extend services for Epicor, told Tire Business during AAPEX.
Typical recommended maintenance schedules gives vehicle owners suggestions of which services probably should be done at certain mile intervals, he said.
PMA goes beyond that to tell customers and techs what will need repaired, he said.
"We're able to tell you within a certain high level of confidence, what the next three or four parts are that are most likely to fail."
For example, recommended maintenance may call for replacing a water pump at a certain mile interval. While that may be true for drivers in a state such as New York, Epicor technology would flag that a driver in Arizona should be concerned with replacing an oxygen sensor at that interval instead, Hardin said.
The software uses web "listener" and MicroStrategy HyperCard technologies to create specific reports for each vehicle that customers and service professionals can review, Epicor said.
It generates real-time forecasts, enhanced by artificial intelligence, that can be used when writing estimates, talking to technicians and advising customers on car maintenance.
When used in combination with other Epicor offerings, including its digital parts catalog and point-of-sale data, Epicor is able to "get the right part to the right place at the right time within 30 minutes of the time when the vehicle goes up on the lift," Hardin said.
The program is an example of how artificial intelligence and machine learning can be put to practical use by a shop, he said. "It really frees up the independent repair shop to have a conversation with you."
A service provider can show a driver what maintenance needs to be done and ask if they want it done that day.
"If not, you're going to be back in about 5,000 miles."
Both pieces of software are designed to be user-friendly and adhere to high data (ACES and PIES) standards.
The incoming labor force doesn't have the deep instructional knowledge of older auto technicians, the company said.
Epicor's software can make it easier behind-the-scenes to bring new employees on board and give them the knowledge they need quickly to make recommendations to customers and ensure that they're using and ordering the correct parts, Hardin said.