With strict race regulations in terms of horse power, aerodynamic downforce and octane rating in fuel allowed, success in Formula 1 racing has become highly dependent on optimal performance of all car components. And although racing skills are still crucial, the driver is no longer the only one behind the wheel. Information from up to hundreds of sensors is transmitted wirelessly via a proprietary service that encrypts the information and sends it to remote facilities for analysis in realtime, turning a losing car into a winner. Translated into business terms, this is Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) at its best!
Three-figure number of megabytes per second
The sensors, which are reduced in number during the actual race for weight reasons, measure everything from physical forces on the car and position of the wings to engine and tire temperatures and stresses, to aerodynamic information. Thanks to IT technology such as an MPLS connection (Multi Protocol Label Switching) and Citrix’s XenDesktop virtualization software, as used by Red Bull Racing, these big data are put into predictive intelligence models and used as inputs for race strategy and car servicing. Such systems call for three-figure numbers of megabytes per second worth of bandwidth. Outages are rare and generally happen within the last few hundred meters at the track, thanks to unshielded fiber cables and the like. Backup servers travel with the team in case something breaks. In other words: it is all about continuously measuring, analysing, improving and embedding, just like in ‘normal’ business life.
In many ways, a factory floor or industrial facility is like a race car. Hundreds of sensors and machines are generating more and more data. Just image how a similar, realtime approach could improve your performances in terms of reliability, efficiency, safety or production and offer you a significant competitive edge. Provided you feed this data to the right decision-makers in a timely and easily digestible way that is. In their imagination, Sci-Fi lovers might already take all this to the next level with drivers (and factory workers) being attached to all kinds of sensors, thus slowly but gradually turning into cyborgs. Personally, we prefer a more down-to-earth approach in which the human factor will prevail.
As suppliers of refurbished network components, we look forward to future developments in F1 racing with a special technology interest. Meanwhile, we can’t deny being at least a little proud of our work…