In Formula One, there is no such thing as a finished product. A car is a continuously evolving prototype that experiences as many as 1,000 design changes every week, so improving engineering throughput can create a genuine advantage on the track. Four-time FIA Formula One Constructors’ World Champions Red Bull Racing relies on the PLM digital backbone provided by Siemens PLM to design new components, test them virtually, arrange their manufacture at the click of a mouse, and then install them in a car at destinations across the world.
By Hubertus Breuer
It is a daunting task the Red Bull Racing Team faces: They have five complete sets of track equipment; 21 races across the world; 7,500 unique components in a car; 30,000 design modifications in the course of a season and 40,000 kilos of air and sea freight sent to every location: Formula One racing is full of staggering numbers and daunting logistical challenges.
In order to help mastering these challenges, Siemens has worked with the Red Bull Racing team since it was formed in 2005. Siemens provides innovative software for designing, manufacturing and analysing car parts. At its Future Lab the at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Siemens showed the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB6 Formula One car and its digital twin created with the help of its innovative software tools.
Race-specific parts are required for each event in the calendar, yet sometimes there is only one week between events and performance testing at each track is limited by the regulations of the sport. According to Matt Cadieux, chief information officer at Red Bull Racing, the biggest challenge is the pace of change. “We have an aggressive, nonstop and increasingly complex development cycle before, during and after the season. In addition, the volume of design changes goes up year on year, with our designers making up to 1,000 changes per week between races.”
Red Bull Racing thrives on such challenges, with regular podium places and a record of repeated triumph in both Driver and Constructor Championships. Fundamental to success is a collaborative platform made up of NX software and Teamcenter software from Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software. NX and Teamcenter are the digital backbone of the team and Red Bull Racing continues to add users, integrate new tools and refine processes.
The front wing is a prime example of the challenges the team faces: “The front wing is the first part of the car to meet air and our aim is to micromanage every aspect of airflow,” explains Cadieux. “The front wing is an array of surfaces, all bonded together, which creates the effect of multiple front wings. With extremely complicated geometry, involving many angles and winglets, every little surface has a purpose.”
We need to manufacture about 800 different components to create a whole new front wing.Matt Cadieux, CIO Red Bull Racing
Cadieux adds: “Eighty separate elements make up the front wing assembly, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. We need to manufacture about 800 different components to create a whole new front wing. These include patterns and molds for composite panels, jigs for assembly and jigs for testing and performance compliance. Our PLM tools enable us to work efficiently and quickly to ensure that we get components to the car in time to race.”
NX is used to design manufacturing jigs, such as the ones used to hold the front wing in place while it is bonded, as designers of the full-size car work on the bodywork and mechanical components. Drawings created in NX for use in manufacturing, fitting and logistics are stored alongside model files within Teamcenter, which manages templates and defaults to ensure consistency between users. Because the supply chain plays a huge part in ensuring that Red Bull Racing is able to meet the manufacturing demands generated by the design department, the supplier management department is fully integrated into the Teamcenter ecosystem.
NX integrates programming that runs production processes such as metal cutting and additive manufacturing. CAD (Computer Aided Design) geometry is used to form the patterns for carbon layering of composite parts. The manufacturing process itself is extremely complicated with shop floor operators paying particularly close attention to geometry. They use NX to gain a clear view of work-in-progress items. During the inspection stage, NX 3D data is used to confirm dimensions and NX is used for creating diagrams to show the location of damage such as a scratch or an indentation on a carbon fiber part. After the different parts of the front wing are made, they are painted and assembled. At the fitting stage, mechanics use Teamcenter Visualization to view the full design and use it as a reference when assembling the car.
When Red Bull Racing was founded, one of the priorities was to not be constrained by process in case it got in the way of free thinking and creativity. Over the years, as the organization has matured, there has been a greater need for clarity and control so that more people can collaborate effectively. “As our longest standing partner, Siemens PLM Software understands the company and its operation as well as the sport and its requirements,” Cadieux observes. “Our Siemens PLM Software tools give us exactly what we need: sensible processes that enable us to access the right information quickly, make smart decisions, save time and use our resources wisely.”
The Siemens PLM Software professional services team is embedded within Red Bull Racing. Members of the team cover day-today support, induction of new employees and user training. They are there to assess future business challenges, identify gaps where new functionality might be required and develop the tools appropriately. “We only partner with suppliers who deliver best-in-class, and our PLM platform from Siemens is just that,” comments Cadieux. “It is also important that our partners can provide suites of software and technology, because the responsibility for integration lies with them and that takes a burden away from us as a team.”
Picture credits: Red Bull Racing
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