Pushing the boundaries of technology is always an exciting event, and there is no better place to be able to do it than within the Formula one Motorsport arena. The McLaren Group is one of the leading motorsport engineering companies, and at their engineering works in Woking, Surrey, they are constantly on the lookout for any technological advancements that can get them onto that winner’s podium.
Pushing the Boundaries on Inspection
Formula 1 is one of the highest, fastest innovators in the hi-tech engineering sector. Within the span of one racing season, over 90% of a car’s engine is redesigned by the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 racing team. Anything that can help them in pushing the boundaries of the technology is always pounced on and scrutinised with great alacrity. Just lately, the focus has been turned onto the inspection function.
Inspection is the first and most vital part of the ongoing redesign program. Examining all of the working components of the car to evaluate how they performed in action, and what wear and tear they were exposed to is key. The standard inspection time allowed to check over one of these cars extends into many hours. But with the new innovative products that are now available to them via Faro-Europe, McLaren’s partner of over 10 years, and the supplier of all of their measuring equipment, they are now pushing the boundaries of the inspection process itself.
What Previously took Hours – Now takes only Minutes
Faro are leading proponents in the field of 3D measurement technology, and it is through this medium that McLaren are now being able to do in minutes, what previously took many hours. The new inspection equipment comes in several formats, each designed to operate within specific environments. For example, where non-contact with the test substrate is best, Faro has developed a laser line probe which is fitted on the end of an arm known as a FaroArm. The laser rapidly scans the test inspection surface, analysing millions of reference points in the process. It then produces a “map” of the surface which it compares to a CAD model of the worn part.
By comparing the two sources of information, the software then throws up a visual colour coded representation of any worn areas. Green areas indicate little wear and tear and show that the measurements are within tolerance. Red coded areas indicate a surfeit of material build up, and blue coded areas highlight areas of wear outside of tolerance. This particular example of pushing the boundaries doesn’t result in a more accurate inspection, in fact quite the reverse. But what it does do is to speed up the inspection process significantly, which, in this instance, is exactly what is required.
Measuring in 3D
Another new device that Faro developed, pushing the boundaries for McLaren, was the Faro Gauge. This gauge requires contact with the inspection surface which it gains via using a ball probe. Its job is to enable geometric dimensions to be taken in 3D. The visual output is so much faster and easier to interpret than the old measuring system which printed the data out onto reams of paper.
Helping to Win Races and Championship Titles
McLaren use the new breed of Faro measuring tools throughout their production cycle – not just in inspection. They produce much faster results, significantly lowering cycle times. In a business where beating everyone to the chequered flag is paramount, these time savings, born through pushing the boundaries of engineering, are invaluable and really do help to win races and championship titles!