Giving New Meaning to "Data-Driven"

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Giving New Meaning To “Data-Driven”

Information Powers Results On and Off The Track

When the green flag flies, the No. 31 car’s success doesn’t rest solely on driver Ryan Newman’s skills or the Chevrolet Camaro’s performance. Something else plays a major role in the outcome: data. And if the way the Cat Racing team collects and analyzes data to earn victory on the track sounds familiar, that’s no coincidence. It’s much the same way Caterpillar uses data to make Cat® machines more productive and efficient on the jobsite.

 

FROM VIRTUAL TO REALITY

For the Cat Racing team, simulation means faster, safer real-life performance. Drivers use it to train, refining their skills on different tracks. Engineers use it to test variables in a controlled environment. Pit crew members use data collected during simulations to make decisions during the race. All that contributes to lower costs.

“Every time our engine makes a lap, every time we use a set of tires, it’s very expensive,” says Luke Lambert, crew chief for the No. 31 car. “When we use simulation, we can run lap after lap after lap at a fixed cost.”

Caterpillar and Cat customers reap similar benefits. Using simulation, it’s much faster — and less expensive — to manipulate, assemble and disassemble virtual products than real iron. It also speeds product design and testing, so machines get to market more quickly and cost-effectively, and helps engineers replicate extreme conditions.

“We’ve got customers working in negative 40 degrees,” says Chad Cremeens, operations supervisor at the Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center. “They have to get the job done despite the temperature. We’re able to test the machine — make sure it’s going to start, make sure the hydraulics work, make sure it’s still safe, make sure the structures are going to last.”

The Cat Racing team collects and analyzes data the same way Caterpillar uses data to make Cat machines more productive and efficient.

TAKING COMMAND, TAKING ACTION

During a race, the No. 31 car generates all kinds of scoring, tire, fuel and other data — too much for the team on the track to handle. Instead, engineers at an offsite command center process this data and make it actionable, running various contingency scenarios that allow the pit crew to adjust race strategy and get to the finish line faster.

Many Cat customers rely on similar command centers, where experts aggregate and analyze data generated by machines equipped with smart technologies. These analysts can manage entire fleets remotely, tracking equipment performance and health and making recommendations to reduce downtime, control costs and increase productivity.

A command center is the hub where data becomes actionable – both during a race and for Cat machines in the field.

TEST, PERFORM, ADJUST, REPEAT

Throughout race week, the Cat Racing team uses data from simulations and previous races to test and calibrate the No. 31 car. They enter measurements into a database to document current settings and create a baseline for future changes. With that information, they can measure what’s working and determine what needs to be adjusted. Then, before the car heads to the track, it faces one last stage of validation — the chassis dynamometer — for a final check of engine power, output and insulation, making sure no vibrations or drag are damaging engine performance.

Cat equipment undergoes similar validation before it reaches the jobsite. Data collected through virtual product development, plus rigorous testing that mimics the toughest applications, means machines stand up to the demands of the job, day after day. From there, ongoing analysis of on-the-job performance data helps engineers make adjustments — ensuring the next generation of machines is even more reliable, durable, fuel-efficient and productive.

Data from simulations helps Ryan Newman drive the No. 31 car to victory, just as it helps Caterpillar engineers create a machine that can stand up to the demands of the job.

So the next time you hear the phrase “data-driven,” remember this — data actually is helping Ryan Newman drive the No. 31 car to victory, just as it’s helping Cat customers around the world compete and win on the job.


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