Hendrick Motorsports, a critically acclaimed and immensely successful NASCAR racing team with drivers such as Chase Elliott, William Byron, seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman, began using software in the engine engineering shop in the early 1990s.
At the time, the team used computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) software to create the tool paths they needed to drive the 3-, 4- and 5-axis operations on their Haas machine tools. This led to greater efficiency and also removed one of the early engineering problems: part variability.
As they increased their use of software to the design and simulation disciplines, they began to see significant benefits as it enabled the engineering team to capture, document, and collaborate on designs. The link between computer-aided design (CAD), CAM and computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools also led to less data import and export, fewer errors in translation and greater ability to keep engineering groups aligned on the latest parts and design updates.
Searching for data used to take hours, days and even weeks, because people had to spend time looking through binders and file cabinets. Now, it’s just a matter of minutes.
The Hendrick Motorsports team has also been optimizing and rolling out the Active Workspace client to improve the user accessibility and experience.
Using Teamcenter helps the team get the right data to the right people at the right time in a secure environment. This means more time is spent evaluating and analyzing options.
Think of a NASCAR race team operation as a company that develops a new product release 36 times per year. Races happen whether the team is ready for them or not.
So engineering has to continuously develop and produce a steady stream of enhancements during the season. This requires a balance between prioritizing performance advantage and maintaining reliability.
For example, the designers noticed they were getting damage on a specific part. They applied the assembly finite element method (FEM), a key strength of Simcenter 3D, to understand what happened so they could make better designs.
Using assembly FEM allows them to investigate and understand the interactions between parts and see if and where that interaction is causing part damage or potential failure.
Since partnering with Siemens PLM software in 1997, Hendrick Motorsports has won over 300 NASCAR races and 14 championships in the three national levels, 10 at the top level.