During the 2019 Formula One season, teams competed on 21 race tracks across the world, all with their own unique combination of straights, turns, track surfaces and environmental factors.
For Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, it means creating a bespoke car for every event – which means the Team never races the same car twice.
Two words are dominating business conversations at the moment, speed and agility. Given the amount of uncertainty and disruption present in every market, territory and vertical, that’s perhaps not surprising.
Neither are necessarily new concepts; however, both have risen to become strategic objectives for almost all organisations – from start-ups to global corporations.
Though speed and agility sound similar, they are actually very different:
Speed is your business’ ability to move in one direction as quickly as possible.
Agility is your business’ ability to accelerate, decelerate and quickly pivot to avoid issues and grasp opportunities.
The manufacturing industry has traditionally prioritised speed, with businesses believing that better, faster, cheaper were the primary drivers of efficiency gains and growth.
Yet, being able to manufacture a product faster isn’t of much value if the demand for that product evaporates and you can’t adopt to changing consumer demands fast enough.
The real strength, and a bright future, for UK manufacturing lies in high value, lower volume, built on an ever-increasing level of customisation, automation and the ability to produce short-run bespoke products quickly and efficiently, according to Jason Renders, Account Director, Global Industries, at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).
Realising such a vision relies on businesses being both fast and agile, he continues.
“Many manufacturers understand speed and efficiencies to a very high level, but far less so regarding agility and reacting swiftly to disruption. That’s been the downfall of many a business.”
It’s not always easy to get the balance of speed and agility right, and that’s where ‘smart’ technologies play a leading role.
How does Aston Martin Red Bull Racing execute 30,000 design and engineering changes a year?
? WATCH THE VIDEO TO SEE HOW ? … ?
A winning combination
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing perfectly illustrates what happens when all these factors – speed, agility, technology – are successfully brought together and ingrained within a workplace culture.
Since the 2005 Formula One season, the UK-based Team has racked up 62 wins and four double world championships, in part by swiftly adapting to design changes and new regulations with agility.
To keep pace with a constantly changing environment, the Team executes more than 30,000 design and engineering changes a year, 1,000 design releases per week, and makes very data-driven decisions at the race track when seconds count.
In order to successfully achieve that, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has had to select the best applications possible, and invest in highly capable infrastructure, internal software development, and upskilling Team members.
In essence, the organisation has had to “recreate their entire digital ecosystem” and integrate a suite of “digital tools that touch every part of the business”, explains Matt Cadieux, Chief Information Officer for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
“The Team has undergone a deep and far-reaching digital transformation over the past several years. Digital technologies are used throughout the entire lifecycle of our business, from engineering through manufacturing to racing the car.”
Image courtesy of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing / Mark Thompson
A ‘digital backbone’
According to Matt, constant design development is the secret to on-track success.
To meet such demands, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has developed a digital backbone that helps the Team accelerate its car development programme, as well as create feedback loops that capture what is happening, or has happened, on the racetrack and help drive the continuously improvement of the cars throughout the course of a season.
Each car is instrumented with 100 sensors gathering real-time telemetry related to performance, reliability, aerodynamics, and a host of other digital inputs that have to be analysed and post-processed.
The Team relies on the results of this analysis – and the critical infrastructure that delivers it – to make optimal decisions regarding pre-race set-up and to adjust their tactics during the race itself.
With four double world championships under its belt, it looks like the transformation has been successful; yet the Team isn’t resting on its laurels.
“Creating this digital ecosystem is an ongoing, multi-year project involving many stakeholders from different areas of the organisation all working together and all pulling in the same direction to achieve a united vision,” Matt concludes.