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FUTURE TECHNOLOGY Even drivers can benefit from the use of tablets, which give them real-time information about lap times and tyre wear

the end of each day, the data is backed up and synchronised with the servers in Milan. ‘It is a very solid bit of kit,’

explains a Pirelli engineer, ‘made for outdoor use. We have had no failures. An iPad is too fragile. It’s fashionable, but not strong enough. What we have is best for robustness and performance.’ Battery life is also a possible

limitation with tablets, but Pirelli claim it is good for a whole Formula 1 race, though for longer events like Grand-Am races they rely solely on a laptop instead. As such, the Pirelli engineers consider the tablet an extension of their laptops, rather than the other way round. Curiously, though, the Red Bull team never reported any battery life issues using the same system in 500 and 600-mile races.

INTO THE MATRIX But tablet computing and the concepts around it can be taken further into the world of production and onto the parts room. Mazak’s Mazatrol Matrix system hugely enhances the capability of its machine tools, and even helps users make decisions based on what it tells them in a conversational process (more on this in a future issue). The Mazatrol Matrix is now standard equipment on all Mazak models, such the new Integrex IV series, Integrex e-series, Variaxis II series, Nexus series, Vortex

five-axis machining centres and Cybertech Turn machines. Once a part has been made using such technology it ends up on the parts shelf and eventually on a competition car, and this is where the software of Kinetic Racing Technologies comes in. It tracks parts throughout their life, using a

engraving pencil, or have the number stamped on, but some of the more forward thinking teams wanted other options, so we use a barcode system.’ Some components in the

past have actually failed due to etched part numbers and very detailed papers on this can be purchased from the SAE.

“a critical component of the tablet was a barcode scanner”

barcode scanner – just like the ones found in tablet computers. ‘In lifing a part, each item

needs to have a unique reference number, and there are different ways to do that,’ explains Scott Jasamund, the company’s founder and the man behind the software. ‘A lot just use an

However, affixing a barcode in such a harsh environment could be incredibly tough. But Jasamund says his company has solved this: ‘We came up with this 2D adhesive barcode. It is very resistant to heat, chemicals and wear, and being 2D, it has a lot of redundancy in it, so up 60 per

cent of it can be worn away and it’s still fine. We have completed a 24-hour race with these on brake pads and calipers, and they are fine. The only things we can’t put them on is exhaust manifolds as they are just that bit too hot. But you can also use a laser to direct etch a barcode onto individual parts, especially those [that will be used] inside an engine or gearbox.’ Once the barcode is affixed, the part can be tracked by anyone working on the car, and makes the process of component lifing an integral part of running the racecar. The Windows-based software runs on all tablet PCs and has already found a home in many top racing teams in North America. Jasamund stresses that whilst there is other lifing software out there few, if any, programmes are designed specifically for motorsport. His, he argues, is different, and the name he has given it is a dead giveaway. It is called Racecar Preventative Maintenance Pro, or RPM for short. It has been developed using Jasamund’s experience as a data engineer working in both Stock Car and Sportscar racing. ‘Teams have different ways of working and this software had to be able to handle that. As a result, it is very versatile. On the Porsche RS Spyder, for example, they would have 1000 parts, of which they have two or three of each. With a NASCAR team they have perhaps 100 parts, but have 1000 or so of each of them. It’s a totally different scale. The software was primarily designed for a racing team to use for part lifing. Some teams fall into the trap of using an accounting-based system for part lifing, but it never really works out. Probably because accountants don’t understand racing, and racers don’t understand accounting.’ To handle the broad scope of

A data screen from Pirelli on a tablet, from the 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix 32 • July 2012

customers, Jasamund offers two versions of its software, one of which was developed specifically for the racing departments of major car manufacturers. ‘One of the thing we have done is do two versions – team and manufacturer versions. We developed a version with Porsche Cars North America and they define all of their own parts

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