https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/30225653/RBR_HEXAGON_-ForMTD_5-640x360.jpg
    Measurement

    Keeping quality on track

    • By Editor
    • January 30, 2021
    • 13 minute read

    In the November issue of MTD magazine, we went behind the scenes with Red Bull Racing to investigate how the relationship with Hexagon has evolved down the years to compress time for the F1 Team. In this second instalment, we take a closer look at ‘Race Week’ and how metrology plays a critical role in the paddock. By Rhys Williams


    A
    nybody that watches TV will know that Formula One races always take place on a Sunday, with motorsport fans tuning in to the practice and qualifying sessions that constitute ‘race weekend’. But behind the scenes, the teams and their legions of engineers will have been putting the hard yards in days earlier – for the engineering teams, its ‘race week’.

    As Head of Quality Assurance and Manufacturing Engineering at Red Bull Technology, Mike Hughes tells MTD magazine: “The televised event is Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but the mechanics and the team typically fly out on Monday to become accustomed to the local area. Then we are into the garage on Wednesday. At that point, we are taking things from ’ground zero’ and as we enter the garage, we have a blank canvas. We build the facility with all the equipment around us for the team to set up, it is also when the final parts are arriving, and we are starting to get the car built into sub-assemblies. The weekend starts in earnest on Thursday mid-morning. This is when we are allowed to enter the garage and start fully building the car. We are getting all the new parts together and trying to get as much of the car complete by the end of play on Thursday. To do this we will go through ‘scrutineering’ to make sure everything is as we expected. FIA also impose curfew periods to stop teams working through the night which means we have to work smarter.”

    “Come Friday and the guys are back on the track as soon as the curfew lifts, trying to make the final preparations and ready to get the driver settled in the car to make any final  tweaks before Free Practice 1 (FP1). After that, we have a couple of hours to make adjustments ready for Free Practice 2 (FP2). The rest of Friday evening is spent doing a full strip-down of the car and it changes a lot between FP2 and FP3, which takes place on a Saturday morning. This is where we may change the high mileage components like the engine or gearbox before we get into the really tasty part of the weekend with qualifying and the race. After qualifying, the cars go into ‘Parc Ferme’ (‘Closed Park’ in French) where we cannot touch the cars, and they are sealed. We can only access the car if there are very strong safety or reliability concerns. Finally, the cars come out of ‘Parc Ferme’ before the race and the last-minute preparations are done on the grid on Sunday. As soon as the race is finished, the mechanics are stripping down the car and preparing for the next race.”

    Taking a closer look at this cycle, the ‘scrutineering’ process is where teams have to prove to the FIA that the car conforms to all the specified regulations. Mark Foden, External Quality Assurance Group Leader at Red Bull Technology says: “The FIA take their measuring equipment to the races and we all have to go through what we call the ‘bridge of doom’. As soon as you enter this FIA garage, there is a time limit and you only have two 10-minute slots per race weekend. The FIA use gauges and templates to check the cars fit into the ‘legality box’.”

    Adding to this, Mike Hughes says: “There’s a 5mm manufacturing tolerance that the FIA allows on things like the rear wing height for example. But as the race team, we want to maximise our performance, so we may want to make it 4.9mm and that is where we need something more precise than the templates and snap gauges the FIA may use. This is where Hexagon gives us the precision levels we need with its Leica Absolute Tracker AT960. It exceeds the FIA equipment, enabling us to achieve our ‘marginal gains’.”

    Like the dozens of engineers working behind the scenes, the team also has to be well equipped to face every eventuality that may occur during race week. “We are taking 45 tons of equipment that is just focused on the car. This will include garage equipment, ‘on car’ components and spares for each event. We will have four sets of every assembly. For example, this would be one wing assembly for each car plus a spare assembly; equally, we will have multiple specifications of each wing. We will have an idea of the configuration and downforce levels we want to achieve, so we will have everything we want to fine-tune and adjust the car.”

    On-Track with Metrology

    Looking more specifically at the role Hexagon equipment plays in the Red Bull Racing garage, Mark Foden says: “We use Hexagon’s AT960 laser tracker comprehensively in the garage, it is a key part of our equipment which gives us the confidence that our car is legal before it goes to scrutineering.” 

    “Prior to scrutineering, we build and check the car using the Absolute Tracker.  We have a legality datum system built-in, so at any point, we can take a fully built car and check everything as we are going along. This also gives us time to feed-back to the race engineers – allowing us to fine-tune the car as we progress. But the tracker is used for so much more than this. Even going through FP1 and FP2, if we have any issues, we can go back to the tracker and investigate where we may have had a problem and confirm this, subsequently fine-tuning before we get to ‘Parc Ferme’ conditions.”

    “We have one tracker that is used between the two cars and it is part of the garage set up from day one. The tracker sits in the middle of the garage and is in a position where it can rotate between both cars at any point. Both cars have their independent systems, and this means that at any point we can check either car for any feature that is on it. The tracker is permanently on and in the case of any incidents, we can rapidly go back to verification with regards to any changes to the car.”

    Adding to this, Mike Hughes says: “The FIA put the onus on us to prove our car is legal and that it conforms. We must have absolute confidence to demonstrate that. And in the case of any incidents, we have to be meticulous that every element of our car is easily interchangeable.”

    The Hexagon Equipment

    The racing team currently utilises the capabilities of the Leica Absolute Tracker AT960 laser tracker both at its headquarters and at the track, but this has not always been the case. As Mike recalls: “We started taking the tracker with us to the circuit around 10 years ago. Initially, ‘factory side’ we had every confidence in the functionality the tracker gave us and the concept of using it at the track was key for us – we really could see the benefits of taking the tracker with us.”

    “However, we needed to push a couple of aspects of the tracker to its limits to ‘prove out’ whether it could be used in anger at the track. One of those aspects was portability. It is one thing calling it a portable CMM and moving it from one room to the next, but we are taking it from one country to another. This means shipping it in containers, on cargo planes, taxis and vans, with it being manhandled and possibly dropped – and then turning up at the other end and working seamlessly. Portability and reliability were key concerns for us.”

    “The AT901 Leica Tracker we were taking to the track 10 years ago was a lot bigger, heavier and cumbersome to work. We had a large controller and we had to connect power cables up to 50mm diameter, and we were really pushing to the limits of what was ‘truly portable’. The other thing we needed to assess in the early days was the usability of the system, as we were trying to integrate a piece of precision metrology into our race team and getting the relationship of how it actually works. We found a few issues with the Leica T-Probe where somebody would walk in front of the laser and it would lose connection – all practical issues we needed to prove out. This is why we needed to push Hexagon to resolve all these problems, and they did! The AT960 really opened things up for us, we could see that we could use the equipment in anger on the track, overcoming all our problems.”

    “Now, we can fit the entire tracker packaging into what would have just been the main body of the previous version. The controller is more compact, the environment monitoring system is now built into the controller rather than being a separate unit and the cables are now 12mm. The system is far quicker to set up and far quicker to warm-up. This portability, reliability, and ability to take it anywhere around the world, plug it in, in any environment and it’ll work – is something we can completely rely on for our car setup. Now, we are so confident in the reliability of the tracker, we don’t have a backup plan. It is a key instrument in setting up the car.”

    “It has been a long learning curve over the 10 years to bring this to fruition and use this technology in a garage environment, but we can really trust and use the data the Hexagon tracker gives us. It has been a long journey, but now, we are reaping the rewards,” says Mike Hughes.

    What is next in terms of the partnership?

    Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division’s UK General Manager, David Brown says: “The partnership goes back a long way and there has been a huge evolution in technology and our applications where we now have a unique portfolio in the marketplace. The one thing that we do have in line with the Red Bull Racing ethos is a dedication to innovation. This is highlighted by the fact that we now have over 4000 patents in our portfolio. What we try and encourage with Red Bull Racing is that they connect as closely as possible with our innovation and R&D teams – this gives the team an opportunity to see and trial our latest technologies before they are commercially released. It also gives the team the chance to really ‘shake it down’ and put our technology through its paces in a real environment.”

    “From a product perspective, we have new hardware, new sensor technology and new software all coming along in the near future. Just look at the sensor technology and the example of the RS6 Laser Scanner at Red Bull Racing. This scanner is a modular blue laser 3D scanner designed for Hexagon’s Absolute Arm systems. Since being launched in 2019, the excellent scanning performance of the RS6 has made it a key tool for the Red Bull Racing team. We continually strive to develop the speed of data transfer and ease-of-use – as this is what industry wants. From a software perspective, we are very much connecting the digital world to the physical world. So, we are supporting the digital twin concept.”

    From the Red Bull Racing perspective, Mike Hughes says: “As always, our challenges increase and we have to pass those challenges to our technology partners. One of those challenges and subsequent successes has been the RS6 Laser Scanner and getting to use it in more applications with more widespread use. Having seen the benefits of the scanner on the Absolute Arm, we will be looking to drive the technology further across our business. So, we are hoping that Hexagon can further develop the RS6 and push resources in that direction, which I’m sure will only be a matter of time before their technical teams will be driving further improvements for us on that front.

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 06: <> during previews ahead of the F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 06, 2020 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

    “Another area in which we’re aware Hexagon is investing significant resources is the Etalon machine tool verification system, and that’s certainly interesting for us here at Red Bull Racing.”

    “This again, heads us down the quality assurance approach. For us, if we can understand the machine tools and how they are performing before we manufacture the part, it will again give us the confidence that we can deliver the right quality of parts ahead of time as opposed to confirming quickly after the process.”

    “Getting actionable information is always key to our team. It is all well and good being able to capture information quickly and ensuring that information is accurate, but we need to present it in a way that engineers can make quick and informed decisions. The Hexagon reporting functionality has enabled us to share data across all platforms and this includes the CMMs, the Absolute Arm systems and the laser trackers. Our team don’t have to worry about what equipment has been used to capture the data, engineers can access the reports and equally understand them regardless of the equipment used.”

    Concluding on the relationship, Hexagon’s Technical Sales Manager John Kimber who has worked with the F1 Team for many years says: “Some of the most exciting developments to come, will certainly be based around hardware ‘at the circuit’. Back in the day, I used to see the cars being built at the factory in race bays, wheeled into a lorry and then off to the circuit. Now, the parts are built and shipped to the circuit and the car is constructed at the circuit. This gives even greater ‘time compression’ with an extra day to build the car and assemble the parts, which used to be done two or three days before the cars left the facility. So, maybe ‘on circuit’ applications will be the next big thing in the sport.”

    https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/30225653/RBR_HEXAGON_-ForMTD_5-640x360.jpg

    Keeping quality on track

    In the November issue of MTD magazine, we went behind the scenes with Red Bull Racing to investigate how the relationship with Hexagon has evolved down the years to compress time for the F1 Team. In this second instalment, we take a closer look at ‘Race Week’ and how metrology plays a critical role in the paddock. By Rhys Williams


    A
    nybody that watches TV will know that Formula One races always take place on a Sunday, with motorsport fans tuning in to the practice and qualifying sessions that constitute ‘race weekend’. But behind the scenes, the teams and their legions of engineers will have been putting the hard yards in days earlier – for the engineering teams, its ‘race week’.

    As Head of Quality Assurance and Manufacturing Engineering at Red Bull Technology, Mike Hughes tells MTD magazine: “The televised event is Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but the mechanics and the team typically fly out on Monday to become accustomed to the local area. Then we are into the garage on Wednesday. At that point, we are taking things from ’ground zero’ and as we enter the garage, we have a blank canvas. We build the facility with all the equipment around us for the team to set up, it is also when the final parts are arriving, and we are starting to get the car built into sub-assemblies. The weekend starts in earnest on Thursday mid-morning. This is when we are allowed to enter the garage and start fully building the car. We are getting all the new parts together and trying to get as much of the car complete by the end of play on Thursday. To do this we will go through ‘scrutineering’ to make sure everything is as we expected. FIA also impose curfew periods to stop teams working through the night which means we have to work smarter.”

    “Come Friday and the guys are back on the track as soon as the curfew lifts, trying to make the final preparations and ready to get the driver settled in the car to make any final  tweaks before Free Practice 1 (FP1). After that, we have a couple of hours to make adjustments ready for Free Practice 2 (FP2). The rest of Friday evening is spent doing a full strip-down of the car and it changes a lot between FP2 and FP3, which takes place on a Saturday morning. This is where we may change the high mileage components like the engine or gearbox before we get into the really tasty part of the weekend with qualifying and the race. After qualifying, the cars go into ‘Parc Ferme’ (‘Closed Park’ in French) where we cannot touch the cars, and they are sealed. We can only access the car if there are very strong safety or reliability concerns. Finally, the cars come out of ‘Parc Ferme’ before the race and the last-minute preparations are done on the grid on Sunday. As soon as the race is finished, the mechanics are stripping down the car and preparing for the next race.”

    Taking a closer look at this cycle, the ‘scrutineering’ process is where teams have to prove to the FIA that the car conforms to all the specified regulations. Mark Foden, External Quality Assurance Group Leader at Red Bull Technology says: “The FIA take their measuring equipment to the races and we all have to go through what we call the ‘bridge of doom’. As soon as you enter this FIA garage, there is a time limit and you only have two 10-minute slots per race weekend. The FIA use gauges and templates to check the cars fit into the ‘legality box’.”

    Adding to this, Mike Hughes says: “There’s a 5mm manufacturing tolerance that the FIA allows on things like the rear wing height for example. But as the race team, we want to maximise our performance, so we may want to make it 4.9mm and that is where we need something more precise than the templates and snap gauges the FIA may use. This is where Hexagon gives us the precision levels we need with its Leica Absolute Tracker AT960. It exceeds the FIA equipment, enabling us to achieve our ‘marginal gains’.”

    Like the dozens of engineers working behind the scenes, the team also has to be well equipped to face every eventuality that may occur during race week. “We are taking 45 tons of equipment that is just focused on the car. This will include garage equipment, ‘on car’ components and spares for each event. We will have four sets of every assembly. For example, this would be one wing assembly for each car plus a spare assembly; equally, we will have multiple specifications of each wing. We will have an idea of the configuration and downforce levels we want to achieve, so we will have everything we want to fine-tune and adjust the car.”

    On-Track with Metrology

    Looking more specifically at the role Hexagon equipment plays in the Red Bull Racing garage, Mark Foden says: “We use Hexagon’s AT960 laser tracker comprehensively in the garage, it is a key part of our equipment which gives us the confidence that our car is legal before it goes to scrutineering.” 

    “Prior to scrutineering, we build and check the car using the Absolute Tracker.  We have a legality datum system built-in, so at any point, we can take a fully built car and check everything as we are going along. This also gives us time to feed-back to the race engineers – allowing us to fine-tune the car as we progress. But the tracker is used for so much more than this. Even going through FP1 and FP2, if we have any issues, we can go back to the tracker and investigate where we may have had a problem and confirm this, subsequently fine-tuning before we get to ‘Parc Ferme’ conditions.”

    “We have one tracker that is used between the two cars and it is part of the garage set up from day one. The tracker sits in the middle of the garage and is in a position where it can rotate between both cars at any point. Both cars have their independent systems, and this means that at any point we can check either car for any feature that is on it. The tracker is permanently on and in the case of any incidents, we can rapidly go back to verification with regards to any changes to the car.”

    Adding to this, Mike Hughes says: “The FIA put the onus on us to prove our car is legal and that it conforms. We must have absolute confidence to demonstrate that. And in the case of any incidents, we have to be meticulous that every element of our car is easily interchangeable.”

    The Hexagon Equipment

    The racing team currently utilises the capabilities of the Leica Absolute Tracker AT960 laser tracker both at its headquarters and at the track, but this has not always been the case. As Mike recalls: “We started taking the tracker with us to the circuit around 10 years ago. Initially, ‘factory side’ we had every confidence in the functionality the tracker gave us and the concept of using it at the track was key for us – we really could see the benefits of taking the tracker with us.”

    “However, we needed to push a couple of aspects of the tracker to its limits to ‘prove out’ whether it could be used in anger at the track. One of those aspects was portability. It is one thing calling it a portable CMM and moving it from one room to the next, but we are taking it from one country to another. This means shipping it in containers, on cargo planes, taxis and vans, with it being manhandled and possibly dropped – and then turning up at the other end and working seamlessly. Portability and reliability were key concerns for us.”

    “The AT901 Leica Tracker we were taking to the track 10 years ago was a lot bigger, heavier and cumbersome to work. We had a large controller and we had to connect power cables up to 50mm diameter, and we were really pushing to the limits of what was ‘truly portable’. The other thing we needed to assess in the early days was the usability of the system, as we were trying to integrate a piece of precision metrology into our race team and getting the relationship of how it actually works. We found a few issues with the Leica T-Probe where somebody would walk in front of the laser and it would lose connection – all practical issues we needed to prove out. This is why we needed to push Hexagon to resolve all these problems, and they did! The AT960 really opened things up for us, we could see that we could use the equipment in anger on the track, overcoming all our problems.”

    “Now, we can fit the entire tracker packaging into what would have just been the main body of the previous version. The controller is more compact, the environment monitoring system is now built into the controller rather than being a separate unit and the cables are now 12mm. The system is far quicker to set up and far quicker to warm-up. This portability, reliability, and ability to take it anywhere around the world, plug it in, in any environment and it’ll work – is something we can completely rely on for our car setup. Now, we are so confident in the reliability of the tracker, we don’t have a backup plan. It is a key instrument in setting up the car.”

    “It has been a long learning curve over the 10 years to bring this to fruition and use this technology in a garage environment, but we can really trust and use the data the Hexagon tracker gives us. It has been a long journey, but now, we are reaping the rewards,” says Mike Hughes.

    What is next in terms of the partnership?

    Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division’s UK General Manager, David Brown says: “The partnership goes back a long way and there has been a huge evolution in technology and our applications where we now have a unique portfolio in the marketplace. The one thing that we do have in line with the Red Bull Racing ethos is a dedication to innovation. This is highlighted by the fact that we now have over 4000 patents in our portfolio. What we try and encourage with Red Bull Racing is that they connect as closely as possible with our innovation and R&D teams – this gives the team an opportunity to see and trial our latest technologies before they are commercially released. It also gives the team the chance to really ‘shake it down’ and put our technology through its paces in a real environment.”

    “From a product perspective, we have new hardware, new sensor technology and new software all coming along in the near future. Just look at the sensor technology and the example of the RS6 Laser Scanner at Red Bull Racing. This scanner is a modular blue laser 3D scanner designed for Hexagon’s Absolute Arm systems. Since being launched in 2019, the excellent scanning performance of the RS6 has made it a key tool for the Red Bull Racing team. We continually strive to develop the speed of data transfer and ease-of-use – as this is what industry wants. From a software perspective, we are very much connecting the digital world to the physical world. So, we are supporting the digital twin concept.”

    From the Red Bull Racing perspective, Mike Hughes says: “As always, our challenges increase and we have to pass those challenges to our technology partners. One of those challenges and subsequent successes has been the RS6 Laser Scanner and getting to use it in more applications with more widespread use. Having seen the benefits of the scanner on the Absolute Arm, we will be looking to drive the technology further across our business. So, we are hoping that Hexagon can further develop the RS6 and push resources in that direction, which I’m sure will only be a matter of time before their technical teams will be driving further improvements for us on that front.

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 06: <> during previews ahead of the F1 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone on August 06, 2020 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

    “Another area in which we’re aware Hexagon is investing significant resources is the Etalon machine tool verification system, and that’s certainly interesting for us here at Red Bull Racing.”

    “This again, heads us down the quality assurance approach. For us, if we can understand the machine tools and how they are performing before we manufacture the part, it will again give us the confidence that we can deliver the right quality of parts ahead of time as opposed to confirming quickly after the process.”

    “Getting actionable information is always key to our team. It is all well and good being able to capture information quickly and ensuring that information is accurate, but we need to present it in a way that engineers can make quick and informed decisions. The Hexagon reporting functionality has enabled us to share data across all platforms and this includes the CMMs, the Absolute Arm systems and the laser trackers. Our team don’t have to worry about what equipment has been used to capture the data, engineers can access the reports and equally understand them regardless of the equipment used.”

    Concluding on the relationship, Hexagon’s Technical Sales Manager John Kimber who has worked with the F1 Team for many years says: “Some of the most exciting developments to come, will certainly be based around hardware ‘at the circuit’. Back in the day, I used to see the cars being built at the factory in race bays, wheeled into a lorry and then off to the circuit. Now, the parts are built and shipped to the circuit and the car is constructed at the circuit. This gives even greater ‘time compression’ with an extra day to build the car and assemble the parts, which used to be done two or three days before the cars left the facility. So, maybe ‘on circuit’ applications will be the next big thing in the sport.”