Saturday, 25 November 2017 14:03

Brad Jones Racking track performance enhanced by Acer

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The Newcastle Supercars is on this weekend, and in a sport where every millisecond counts, Acer is helping Brad Jones Racing do its best.

Modern motor car racing isn’t about telling a driver to go around a track as fast as they can; it takes a whole team to make smart decisions in rapid response to data.

Make no mistake; the driver is a high-performance athlete, pushing both their body and the car to its physical limits. Yet, the driver is aided by engineers following the car’s performance lap-by-lap, second-by-second, their minds constantly turning over metrics and what-if’s and vast permutations of scenarios, delivering feedback to the driver about what they can adjust to get that much more out of the car.

Albury-based Brad Jones Racing is the only V8 Supercar team to be based in a regional centre and is helmed by brothers Brad and Kim Jones. The team won championships in AUSCAR, NASCAR and production cars before moving into the V8 world.

While drivers like Brad Jones and Nick Percat are often the face of the sport, there’s a whole world of smart thinking going on by Paul Scalzo, head engineer, and his crew, now enhanced by new technology.

Brad Jones Racing’s general manager of Commercial and Communications, Yarrive Konsky, worked with Acer to arrive at a partnership in August, seeing the Supercar team receive Acer’s latest laptops, desktops, tablets and monitors.

The benefit has been enormous, Scalzo explains. His engineering crew are no longer desk-bound, due to the portable workstation power of the Acer Predator laptop, citing numerous examples:

  1. The SSD provides fast boot times, as well as fast application loading, and data management;
  2. The spacious hard disk stores large CAD diagrams and models, as well as the large volumes of data collected from the car, with over 100 data points being collected, some hundreds of times per second;
  3. The 4K screen provides strong visual clarity allowing detailed graphs to be understood quickly without compromising either the depth of data or the textual labels;
  4. The hardware allows a processor core to be reserved for email, and to dedicate all the rest to the high-grunt work of CAD or data analysis;
  5. The portability and power means the engineering team can realistically experiment with CAD models and walk over to the fabrication team and demonstrate it, getting their feedback and advice with a minimum of fuss; and
  6. The device’s power and speed means the team can react to driving conditions or data swiftly, giving feedback to the driver in the shortest possible timeframe

This latter point — analysing data and making corrections in the shortest amount of time — is particularly important.

In the corporate world, a business’ fortunes can be truly turned around with information systems that accelerate a monthly report to a weekly, even daily one, giving an opportunity to react to issues, rather than simply note they happened.

Yet, Scalzo explains, in a sport where a lap may take less than 90 seconds, you don’t have weeks and days. You need data in milliseconds, and every time you shave even a second off a task you recover real percentages of response time.

In modern motor car racing, Konsky explains, the vehicles are all fundamentally equivalent. The governing body can analyse vehicle data any time it wishes. “The difference in performance comes down to the data and decisions in the control room,” he states. “Acer’s technology is really transforming how we do it.”

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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