During a NASCAR season, parts break. Which means that the pit crews and the engineers back at the shop have to hustle, making on-site repairs and root-cause fixes. Sometimes during the season, parts of the drivers break. Like this past summer, when Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski broke his left ankle during a testing accident. That’s “left ankle” as in “the foot you use to engage the clutch.” Keselowski muscled through the injury and went on to win two races (possibly more after this went to press).
On any given Sunday during the NASCAR season, after the checkered flag waves and the vehicles are back in the transports, engineers may be given only a 36-hour turnaround time to develop, create, and get a new part on a car before the next time it has to hit the track. To keep up with the changes and time constraints, Penske Corp. senior VP and chief information officer Stephen Pickett says the team uses Parametric Technology Corporation’s (PTC; ptc.com) product design and development software to assist in making this compressed time constraint manageable.
According to Pickett, PTC’s Windchill product lifecycle management (PLM) software helps the team and third-party collaborators work together to manage the engineering process from concept to completion. Whether work is being done in machine shops, at Penske’s Mooresville, North Carolina, racing facility, or at tracks around the country, the web-based business collaboration software helps Penske Racing manage, develop, and deliver the products created to enhance the team’s performance. Another digital tool the team uses is PTC’s Creo computer-aided design (CAD) software, which just happens to work very well with Windchill. Its customizable suite of applications gives Penske engineers the tools to design, engineer, and test parts and vehicles prior to manufacturing. One important aspect of Creo is that it lets users design in various environments (i.e., 2D drafting, 3D direct modeling, 3D parametric modeling, assembly-based modeling, or PLM-based modeling) then allows quick and easy movement of data between them. Consequently, the designers and engineers can concentrate on creating parts, not figuring out code.
Still, although the team can quickly design and produce new suspension components, ankles are another story.