From Motorsport to Manufacturing: How McLaren are using IoT

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McLaren Applied Technologies, McLaren Technology Group’s innovative arm, is working on new ways to improve the manufacturing process by combining their creative thinking with technology to solve crucial challenges.

Decades of competition in the world’s most technologically advanced motorsport has given the company the ability to take advantage of an increasingly connected world. The team at Applied Technologies is using embedded systems, communication platforms and intelligent processes developed in motorsport across industry to increase both efficiency and effectiveness in the manufacturing chain. Integrated data acquisition, workflow and an algorithm development environment inspired by their work in Formula 1 racing allows them to quickly develop these solutions.

Learning the Lessons of Formula 1

A Formula 1 race is basically a high-stakes example of the internet of things, all playing out in interconnected computers, deriving real-time data from more than 300 sensors attached along a Formula 1 car. Engineers then feed the data into predictive models that are used to create plans for race strategy and even new car developments.

By transferring decision support tools developed in motorsport to manufacturing, Applied Technologies is enabling manufacturers to understand the impact of individual line productivity on the overall factory performance.

Developing solutions for the edge of the network requires application specific engineering that combines:

  • Domain knowledge (preferably learned from domain end users) as core information to help engineers to execute quality test cases.
  • Agile feature development focused on quick responses to change and continuous development in close collaboration with customer.
  • Secure over-the-air download to provide faster and interoperable firmware updates, allowing for improved data integrity and security.
  • Configuration management of information about versions and updates of all hardware and software.

Tools enabling real-time decisions help operators to see the bigger picture and avoid just “local” optimisations. Winning results come from being forewarned, which means predictive modelling and what-if scenario planning. McLaren Applied Technologies develop forward-looking data systems, simulations and visualisations with their customers, which give them intelligence necessary to make well-timed, insightful decisions in complex environments.

Model design tools and data analytics are key in both running diagnosis of issues and designing or improving models for execution line-side. But production is not only about uptime and quality but also operating the factory with competing cost, quality, schedule, shelf-life and inventory. For companies to invest in building a complete Industrial IoT, they will need to overcome resistance that surrounds any new feature which places added demand on infrastructure and security.

Using Augmented Reality to Visualise the Chain

At McLaren, low cost devices need to go through stages of approved process, and so a programme to marry up modelling, domain, market, and context know-how; to effectively transform the process, is essential. To rapidly conceptualise their products, McLaren are infusing their data with augmented reality to drive additional value to their business.

AR has applications to augment every phase of the design and manufacturing and make it more precise. From an initial concept to actual work environment, the company can save the time and money it takes to make new products while also raising skill level of workers.

The advantage that AR brings to manufacturers is visualisation – enabling them to see a finished design as it would appear in the physical world, even though it has not been built yet. When McLaren are planning to develop a new layout of the factory, they can look at how people are going to work with machines. Mixed reality makes it easy to leverage context awareness about any kind of environment and instantly feed it back. And if engineers are able to retrieve augmented data and 3D models and catch missing or hidden parts, then AR becomes a very powerful tool.

AR is also used to market and sell new products, showing how they might look like in customer’s setting. Such an interactive way of bringing products and processes alive in customer’s settings offers entirely new experiences and draws new customers in. And it works the other way around: manufacturers immerse themselves in their customers’ needs too.

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