Jaguar Racing, one of eleven Formula 1 racing teams, operates in a high-tech plant filled with 5-axis machining centers and sophisticated test equipment.
The atmosphere is one of precision and pressure: precision from the need to optimise racing cars' performance to shave hundredths of a second off lap times; pressure from the need to make changes between the 17 Grand Prix races from the first of the season - Melbourne in March - to the last - Japan in October.
Every key component on each car is "lifed," that is, its time in service use is carefully recorded. In addition, exceptional events must be noted. The traceability on everything is as rigorous as in the aerospace industry.
At each Grand Prix weekend, the Friday is given over to free practice (see DN.9.17.2001, p.25). The data from well over 200 sensors positioned about the cars are downloaded by radio link.
"We return from each race with 10 GB of data," says Steve Nevey, CAE Manager at Jaguar Racing.
The data generated from the practice drives is divided into 3 data channels for different groups of specialists - engine group, suspension group and body group. It is also fed into a hydraulic test rig at the factory.
"The surface profile of any race track can be recreated so we can optimise each car's set up," explains Nevey. "We work that night ready for the timed practice on the Saturday then may change things again for the race proper on the Sunday".
The story really starts a year previously when the car concept was drafted. During the summer, the design process accelerated using a product life cycle management system provided by EDS. Teams at various stages work together, even in distant parts of the world and in different parts of the supply chain. Jaguar gets its engines from Cosworth and its gearboxes from Xtrac.
The Unigraphics software suite includes stress analysis with finite element analysis, fluid dynamic analysis, vehicle dynamics analysis, I-Man product data management and TeamCentre design collaboration tools. Rapid prototyping is used for generic models with each produced in up to 20 different variants to test alternative set-ups.
During late fall, manufacture starts using CAD data. Immediately after Christmas, the first car is being tested.
Testing and racing often result in failure. Each part that fails must be redesigned, manufactured, fitted to the car and ready to race, typically in just a few days.
"Design is never frozen," says Nevey. "The car is a 12 month prototype".
Enter the number at www.designnews.com/info: Software from EDS: Enter 530