By Traci Purdum With the first TREAD Act (Transportation Recall, Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation) deadline only days away (the regulations are to be imposed April 1), automotive manufacturers could use all the help they can get. To help companies comply with the TREAD Act, which requires vehicle and equipment makers to submit reports summarizing information about consumer complaints as well as warranty, legal claims and field reports to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), IBM Corp. and SAS Institute Inc. have partnered to offer a warranty analysis and early-warning solution. While the solution does not automatically file a report to NHTSA, the results are compatible with NHTSA's requirements, according to Larry Stolle, IBM global business development executive. According to Stolle, the information that NHTSA requires is going to be public record. "Manufacturers need to be sure to hit all the facts and have unimpeachable data," he adds. IBM and SAS' early-warning solution integrates data from 50 to 60 sources including service activities, customer surveys, call-center contacts, production information, public records, part/product sales data and warranty information. The companies then organize all the information into a central database, which quickly alerts manufacturers to emerging issues. (While Stolle admits that manufacturers already have some systems in place to comply with NHTSA, this solution can help extend and complete those systems, he believes.) With so much data, the challenge that IBM and SAS face is making sure that the information is correctly interpreted. For example, "Fire can be a very bad thing in some systems," explains Stolle. "But if there is information that a sparkplug fired, that's a good thing. We don't want to provide tainted information." Stolle says SAS does a good job of analyzing data to provide accurate, robust results. The solution is contained in a Web portal that supports users across each customer's organization.