Consider this: Jaguar Racing has had a less than stellar performance record in its brief three-year history of Formula One (F1) racing. It was formed in 1999 when Ford bought the team from Stewart Grand Prix, re-branded it, and painted the cars green, and debuted in the mother of all motor racing, F1, in the 2002 racing season. The team scored just nine points in its first season, a mere four in its second, and lagged behind in 2002 when design flaws made its car slow. But just when some thought Ford would pull Jaguar out of the running, the company dug its heels into the tarmac and sent in Richard Parry-Jones, the head of Ford's product development program, to shake things up. The move marked the dawn of a new culture at Jaguar Racing, one led not by racecar drivers but technical gurus. More importantly, it shows the value of strong engineering management, and the process and product improvements that can come from wise use of software tools.
The Shake Up
Parry-Jones's first move in his new position was to conduct an extensive three-month evaluation of Jaguar Racing. As a result of the review, he reduced head count by one sixth and sacked three-time F1 champion Niki Lauda as CEO of the Premier Performance Division, which encompasses Jaguar Racing, Cosworth Engines, and Pi Research. Lauda's replacement was Tony Purnell, a quiet fellow with a background in aerodynamics. Purnell founded Pi Research, the company that supplies wind-tunnel controls and electronic instrumentation for F1 cars. He started Pi in his basement 20 years ago with a circuit board and wire. In an industry dominated by present and former racecar drivers who have achieved hero status, Purnell is no brand name but rather a "horrifyingly clever engineer," as Jaguar Spokesperson Nav Sidhu describes him. And his talents lie in picking other good people. "Tony is the one who identified the new talent to take the company forward," Sidhu says.
As the new brains for the Premier Performance Division, Purnell set to work installing a new senior management team to attempt a turnaround at Jaguar Racing. The recruits also were not household names, but hard core engineers with a nose for technology. Today, in fact, every senior manager from Parry-Jones on down has a highly technical background.
But Jaguar Racing is more than a bunch of techies. The company culture has morphed completely. "It's different from what people here have experienced—but not different from blue chip companies," says Purnell. "We're trying to slow things down a bit and get people to take a systems approach to everything."
With its procedure manuals and scientific manner, some wonder if such a structured environment doesn't stifle creativity. "People ask me that all the time," says Purnell. "And it completely baffles me because it implies that being sloppy encourages creativity. What fosters creativity is good management and an environment where people can contribute." What's more, he adds, a system of checks and balances curbs bad work.
Testing, Testing, and More Testing
Whether because of a lack of thorough testing or a miscalculation in the wind tunnel, somehow Jaguar's 2002 racing car, the R3, slipped out of the box flawed. The car suffered from poor aerodynamics and too much flex in the chassis. The errors weren't spotted until the car hit the race tracks. But by then, the best solution—a new car—wouldn't be available until 2003.
Purnell attributes the oversight to a lack of a "test-first culture" at Jaguar. The R3 was designed in an old school way, he says. Disciplines at the company tended to work independently without a system for crosschecking and comparing notes. So, Purnell instilled a philosophy of systematic and methodical engineering that relies heavily on the dissemination of data.
"Now we're testing extensively and measuring the car to death before it gets to the track," says Steve Nevey, engineering technology business manager for Jaguar Racing. "Any tools that we use, whether for vehicle dynamic simulation using ADAMS software, or the shaker rig, or wind-tunnel testing are measured against each other to make sure the results are absolutely valid, and therefore much more useful."
Before the group began work on the 2003 model, the R4, Managing Director David Pitch formulated 80-pages worth of specifications for the car. The goal was to identify, in one fell swoop, everyone's requirements for the car—from the stiffness of the chassis to aerodynamics loads and suspension geometry. The strategy was to get everyone thinking as a unit.
"Rather than people having to discuss all the interfaces between different disciplines as the design progressed, all those decisions took place upfront," says Nevey. Some changes were made while designing, but those compromises were kept to a minimum.
Race to the Finish
Racecar design is fast work, aided by software coordination. Scattered throughout the 8,500-ft2 Milton Keynes Jaguar Racing headquarters in England are 60 or so Hewlett-Packard workstations humming with EDS software—Unigraphics for integrated computer-aided design, manufacturing, and engineering and TeamCenter for product lifecycle management. Jaguar designs the chassis and gets it engines from Cosworth Engines, which also uses EDS software. With TeamCenter, Jaguar can give Cosworth remote access to its database.
At Jaguar, there is a hard push to build a race car in six months. Aerodynamic concepts take shape in March, construction begins in September and the car begins track testing in January. During the concept meeting, designers first identify an efficient aerodynamic shape, taking into consideration F1 regulations, cooling, weight distribution, and packaging of the engine. Coordination is essential as work begins on the many subsystems.
Design meetings are regular and generally take place during a live CAD session. All design teams members are present, and the CAD model is projected onto the wall. Designers take turns in the "hot seat," says Nevey. "The hydraulics designer will sit at the keyboard and drive the CAD session for a while as he talks about his part, and then the guy who's doing the cooling installation takes his turn."
Jaguar manufactures 100% of its chassis in house. Unigraphics updates tool paths automatically when there's a change in the CAD model. The manufacturing group can get to work on machine tools while the designer squeezes in last-minute iterations. The designer may run another structural analysis and realize he can make a pocket bigger to reduce the weight of the part. "The more iterations you can consider, the more optimized the component is going to be and the faster the car will be," Nevey says.
Brains before brawn: Fronting Jaguar Racing's new engineering-led philosophy is Tony Purnell, head of Ford's Premier Performance Division, the group that includes Jaguar Racing, Cosworth Engines and Pi Research.
Winds of Change
For its first two years in F1, Jaguar relied on the Ford-owned Swift wind tunnel in far-away California. On top of the time difference and the logistical nightmare of having to ship engineers and parts halfway around the world, testing was limited to only two weeks a month. Last year, Jaguar opened its own wind tunnel facility in Bicester, England, only 30 miles from the Milton Keynes factory. Now, the team tests 16 hours a day, six days a week, with plans to move to full 24-hour-a-day operation. Controls for the tunnel are supplied by Pi Research. The R4 is the first car designed using the Bicester wind tunnel.
Among other purposes, windtunnels are used to identify aerodynamic factors in the battle between downforce and drag. To test components, Jaguar uses a 50% model of its racecar. It will produce eight or ten variations of parts and sequentially test each to acquire data on the most aerodynamically efficient. To vary ride height conditions, the car is suspended by a pillar from the ceiling.
"Wind tunnel testing is an interactive process," stresses Nevey. It's not uncommon that in the midst of testing, an engineer will get a light-bulb idea for a new configuration, which he'll want to test immediately. With the wind tunnel nearby, he can have the part in his hands the next day.
Realizing it has to keep pace with the increased demand for prototypes at the tunnel, Jaguar purchased two stereolithography machines from 3D Systems. To keep up with the prototyping machines, designers produce a generic version of a part in Unigraphics and update thickness, trim, or angle, parametrically to create the variations.
And to complement wind tunnel analysis and give engineers a head start on physical prototypes, Jaguar uses Fluent CFD analysis software.
Building a WInner: engineering tools are useless unless you correlate them with measurements directly from the car, says Steve Nevey, computer-aided engineering guru for Jaguar Racing, shown here at his desk. Below is a CAD image of a Formula One rear suspension.
Whole Lotta Shakin'
Racecars can bounce about violently during a race and even become airborne if they hit the right curve or a bump. With the wheels in the air, control is lost and the engine can't do its job of moving the car forward. To set the spring and shocks properly and get the best grip for the tires, the physical dynamics team hoists the car on a Servotest (www.servotest.com) seven-post shaker rig. One hydraulic ram goes onto each wheel, simulating bumps along the course, and three others go underneath the car to simulate aerodynamic down force. The shaker rig can simulate the surface profile of any track on the F1 circuit.
Complementing the 7-post shaker, the team also uses ADAMS software for virtual physical dynamic simulation of the CAD model.
Keeping the wheels "planted" and pointing in the same direction is another concern. Too much flex or bend in the chassis can prevent that. To compensate for elasticity in the car, engineers put the car on a compliance and kinematics testing rig to test the stiffness of the chassis and movement of the suspension. The machine applies pressure to the wheel hub to simulate loads under race conditions. With the car stationary on the test rig, engineers can measure the deflection of suspension parts and adjust them accordingly.
"Everything on the car has an inherent compliance and will twist or bend, maybe only minimally, but ultimately, it will affect the way the car handles," says Nevey.
Testing doesn't stop when the race begins. In the two weeks between races, the team takes the car to the track to determine the best set up. These include wing balances, tire pressures, brake coolant—the carbon fiber brakes only operate in a certain temperature range—and suspension configuration. Engineers can modify the suspension in all sorts of ways, according to Nevey, making it stiff or soft, letting the car roll side to side or not.
On the track, the car becomes a rolling source of data, with 250 different sensors. Along with engine functions, the sensors monitor fluid temperature and pressure, suspension movement, and stresses. Lasers measure ride height and strain gauges measure the compliance of suspension components. An onboard computer system collects the information and transmits vital signs by radio signal back to the garage. Engineers use MatLab for data analysis.
During the March 23, 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix, radioed sensor readings indicated that the engine oil pressure of driver Mark Webber's car had dropped dangerously low. The car was pulled out of the race before the engine expired, ultimately saving Jaguar a costly engine rebuild.
Jaguar doesn't expect to find glory overnight. It acknowledges that the R4 is unlikely to be a race-winning car. But then again, Nevey doesn't see the racecar as Jaguar's real end product. "It's more like a prototype that we develop for twelve months. If we do have an end product, it's knowledge and intellect. We develop that week by week, month by month, year by year. That's what allows us to move forward and, really, the racecar is just a manifestation."