Tokyo Nissan Computer Systems – an intelligent “Car Selection System”
One of the problems for major car manufacturers is how to increase domestic demand and Nissan have recently been in the public eye due to their own solution to this problem in their home market of Japan.
“Up to now, the price and finish of the car was decided by the model class, for example GL or SGL. Now on one model there are 670,000 possible combinations. It is a totally new concept” says Takao Ohmura, Sales Manager of Tokyo Nissan Computer Systems.
An 18 digit number is used to distinguish the model type and, prior to the launch of the new car, Nissan had produced a dealer guidebook. Although it was possible to arrive at the correct model number, the guidebook was several centimetres thick – not the sort of thing to use in front of a customer – and it would not ensure that the customer got the exact specification ordered.
Mr Harou Isono, Section Manager of the Systems Sales Division explained the headaches he had at the time. “First of all we considered building the “Car Selection system” using Spreadsheet tools already on the market. However, the system required complex IF-THEN rules and it was obvious that development would take too long. The car was completed and we only had two months to produce a workable system”. Just at this time, Mr Isono came across XpertRule from XpertRule Software, distributed by the Daiichi Computer Resource Company (DCR) of Japan. Mr Ohmura evaluated the suitability of XpertRule for the problem. “We soon realised that XpertRule was exactly what we wanted. Our guidebook explains the options in table form and we were able to input these tables into XpertRule. Normally it is difficult to utilise such a large matrix, but XpertRule was able to automatically generate a decision tree structure to arrive at the correct model, from attributes and values in the tables”.
“It took only a few days to enter the tables and generate all the rules needed. Moreover, when changes occur the tables can be easily modified within XpertRule and the new rules generated”.
“You can also check the correctness of the logic by looking at the rules screen. When you build conventional programs from scratch, a change in one place requires corrections in many others. We would probably have taken more than a year doing it any other way” said Mr Isono. “It met our three major requirements: (1) the model selection and check must be completed in three minutes: (2) the ability to run on Nissan dealers hardware, and (3) ease of maintaining the system after the launch of the Cefiro model”.
Initially, 15 sites tested the completed “Car Selection system” and it is now being distributed throughout Nissan showrooms which provide the Cefiro Model.
“We found that XpertRule could be used with the same ease as a spreadsheet. We want to use this tool to build many more applications” says Mr Ohmura.