Siemens Automotive, the Germany-based supplier of original equipment electronic systems, is trying to convince various automakers to adopt its Siemens Diagnostic Information System (SIDIS).

BMW and Volkswagen dealership service departments already are using versions of SIDIS, which consists of a set of three integrated components - SIDIS-R, SIDIS-D and SIDIS-W.

SIDIS-R generates diagnostic trees based on the individual vehicle model. SIDIS-D converts data to diagnostic procedures and adjusts them to standard workshop practice. SIDIS-W provides technicians with a complete set of vehicle data in the form of drawings and video.

"What we support actually is the whole chain of data flow," says Karl-Friedrich Raviol, manager of automotive testing systems sales for Siemens AG. "Starting from supplier, supplier engineering, manufacturing service, going into the field, and also going back - experience data.

"We are generating out of engineering datadirect diagnostic trees. We can afterwards automatically convert this to test procedures, which then can be run on the test equipment."

SIDIS-R, according to Siemens, makes it possible to generate test procedures directly from the engineering data of the vehicle. SIDIS-R's automatic simulation control calculates the effects of all possible switch positions in a vehicle combination with all possible faults. The effect of faults is not only determined locally, but also in relationship to all other systems.

"The intelligence used during run time interprets and explains things," says Mr. Raviol. "If you have a particular situation where you do not know really which object is the faulty one, you may have more than one test to run. After each test the system recalculates based on the results obtained. It's possible the sequence of tests might need to be changed."

The SIDIS-D component of the system combines the expert knowledge of the vehicle manufacturers with the practical experience gained from the entire dealer organization through a feedback function. This information then is made available to all automotive workshops in the automaker's network.

Siemens says the SIDIS-W part of the systems guarantees fast, clear diagnostic and repair procedures, coding and programming procedures. It also provides technical information in the form of text, graphics and video/audio on demand.

One of its most important mode is "Guided Troubleshooting." This feature leads the technician to the location of a fault, starting with vehicle identification. It identifies the vehicle model, its configuration and its control systems.

After that, fault codes are read from the vehicle's ECU memory. Customer reported symptoms also can be entered. From this data, SIDIS-W then automatically generates a test plan that provides the technician the optimal sequence of tasks that need to be undertaken.

Workshops using SIDIS system no longer need to depend on manuals diagnosis, repairs and programming of vehicle systems. The tester's high-resolution displays can show any type of document, even photos, video and sound documents.

The SIDIS system operates on the basis of Windows 95, but without displaying the typical Windows desktop. Navigation relies on touch-screen operation.

"If you use a system which integrates documentation and test instrumentation and communication - everything in one unit - then you can save probably half the time to do the job," declares Mr. Raviol. "Because you don't have to go elsewhere to look up the information."