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High speed dynamics

Jack Loo | Sept. 23, 2010
In the second of an ongoing series, Jack Loo hooks up with blogger John Flood of to discuss the technologies behind the buzzwords used in F1 circles.

With the Singapore leg of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship coming up this weekend, will be looking at the impact of technology on Formula One (F1) racing. In the second of an ongoing series, Jack Loo speaks to blogger John Flood, who owns and edits the site , which covers some of the key technologies used in the F1 competition today.

There is much talk about Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) this season. How is this technology used in F1 today?

The use of CFD allows designers to test the overall effect of a cars shape without building a car. Multiple designs could be mooted and tested in CFD without the expense and time of manufacturing failed concepts. The computing power necessary to crunch the massive numbers required supercomputer hardware and software capable of exploiting the hardwares capacity.

The CFD and CAD (Computer-Aided Design) data could now be used to manufacture scale models of the car to be used in rolling wind tunnel testing. The data needed to be integrated between the CAD files, the CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) files, and the wind tunnel data. Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is the solution. The data collected in the tunnel needed to be calibrated vis-à-vis the CFD data: in other words, actual data versus conceptual data. Plus, corrections between scale model data and full scale data needed to be applied.

Tell me more about PLM.

The software providers aligned themselves with different teams in order to explore the possibilities and to exploit the opportunities in a very challenging environment.

Tata, the Indian manufacturer, is a sponsor for the Ferrari race team. While many think of Tata the car manufacturer, the link with Ferrari is through Tata Consulting Services who provide CAD, CAM, and PLM integration for the team.

It seems like there is quite a huge amount of data to process for the teams.

In the design, manufacture, assembly, and testing process the teams have utilised a vast amount of data collected in testing and racing from the previous seasons. The historical data is the starting point for all of their work on their next car. The initial data gathering was used to improve the performance of the car on race day, but it is also used extensively to improve the entire process for the new car.

Obviously this applies to the engineering and the aero design. But, data from the past cycle is also used to plan manufacturing schedules, choose manufacturing partners, and determine reliability and replacement schedules for parts that are consumed. The info collected is vital when making adjustments to all phases of the teams business. Even the pay schedules and product tracking software is dependent on the actual usage data generated during the season.


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