Siemens software gets weekly NASCAR workout with Hendrick Motorsports

Hendrick Motorsports leverages Siemens PLM software to iterate more swiftly, providing an edge in a hyper-competitive racing arena.
For round 23 of the 2018 NASCAR Cup series championship at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in August, Siemens invited members of the media to attend the race in Brooklyn, Michigan, and speak with members of Hendrick Motorsports to discuss how the championship-winning team leverages Siemens PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software.
The Chevy-powered team was in high spirits at MIS, having just won the previous round at Watkins Glen with driver (#9) Chase Elliott. One of NASCAR’s most successful teams (with a record 15 national series owner’s titles), Hendrick Motorsports began using Siemens software in its engine engineering department in the early 1990s and has partnered with Siemens since 1997. In April 2018, Siemens PLM Software and Hendrick Motorsports extended their technical partnership through the 2024 season.
Since the partnership with Siemens began in 1997, Hendrick Motorsports has won more than 250 NASCAR national series races and 14 championships, including 12 in the elite NASCAR Cup Series with drivers Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Jimmie Johnson. "If we can take advantage of a change more quickly or develop and implement new ideas faster than our competition, it can result in winning races,” said Tad Merriman, engine engineering manager, Hendrick Motorsports. “Using Siemens’ PLM Software provides a competitive advantage for our entire organization.”
Hendrick Motorsports uses Siemens PLM Software’s NX, Simcenter and Teamcenter software for product development, leveraging software-based “digital twins” to gain a competitive edge. “What we do is like having a new product introduction every week for 38 weeks,” said Jim Wall, engine program director, Hendrick Motorsports. “You have to reinvent yourself every single week, understanding the advantage is getting your ideas to the racetrack before someone else does.”
Leveraging Siemens NX software – a digital product development solution – allows Hendricks engineers to virtually build and test components of its race cars. “In the last decade, we have moved forward with a more optimal design from the concept stage,” Wall explains. “We are using finite element analysis as an upfront tool for the design, so we don’t have to break the part before we improve it.”
Siemens Teamcenter, a widely used digital lifecycle management solution, serves as the digital backbone to help Hendrick Motorsports manage product lifecycles for its racing operations, enabling “anywhere, anytime” access to information. “Pulling up previous test results is key,” explains Bryan Fleck, Ph.D (left), engine development manager at Hendrick Motorsports. “We’ll be talking about something, and I can quickly pull up the result and we’ll say, ‘Hold on a second, we may have seen something back here..’ and now you’ve got two instances of it.”
In addition to CAD, CAM and CAE information, a wide variety of data, including track performance data and build sheets, are organized and linked in a way that makes them accessible and comprehensible to everyone in the organization. This is critical in an organization where the next product debut is the following weekend.
“I’ll pick the piston as an example,” Fleck explains. “It’s a highly stressed part, and we’re getting pictures back from the racetrack. By Monday morning, I’m firing up the finite element package and starting to do more analysis, and we’re updating the boundary conditions from the information that has been relayed back from the track. We machine our own pistons, so I can kick off the final design to our CNC guys. They reprogram it using the NX CAM product, and they’re machining parts within a day.” Continue reading »