Porsche Motorsports & Quick Product Creation

The 2015 Porsche 919 that won at Le Mans last June, 45 years after Porsche’s first victory at La Sarthe. The Porsche 919 Hybrid was developed to campaign in the LMP1 class. It uses a four-cylinder turbocharged engine that drives the rear wheels that is supplemented by an electric motor that drives the front with energy stored in a lithium-ion battery, with the energy recovered from both the exhaust gas stream and braking.

The DMG MORI Virtual Machine simulates the programs written by Dittmar Lienert in Siemens NX CAM 1:1

Dittmar Lienert (left), responsible for programming and operation, and Frank Jahn (right), responsible for component production, at Porsche Motorsports.

“On the racetrack we have experienced one of the most successful years in our company’s history. For 2016, we are placing emphasis on consistency and will again shift up a gear. We will be the only manufacturer to tackle three of the four classes at Le Mans,” Dr. Oliver Blume, Porsche CEO said of the company’s motorsports activities.

So one of the ways that Porsche Motorsports will be fielding a number of cars this year for the IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship, the World Endurance Cup races (including, of course, Le Mans) and other series is by establishing an in-house manufacturing capability for the production of components.

Explained Frank Jahn, who is responsible for component production for the Porsche racing team, “Short response times and flexibility are deciding factors for success in the field of motor sports.”

Porsche personnel worked with one of its sponsors and technology partners to develop the production capability, DMG MORI (us.dmgmori.com).  There are two machines and a powerful suite of software at the core of this.  There is the CTX beta 800, a universal turning center, and a DMU 65 monoBLOCK, a five-axis vertical machining center with a rotary table.

Of the equipment, Jahn said, “The combination of the versatile CTX beta 800–it is equipped with a Y-axis and an oil mist circuit breaker–and the five-axis DMU 65 monoBLOCK allows us complete freedom with regard to production.”

Machining capability is one part of the equation.  The design of and programming for parts is another. So at Porsche they’re developing and programming with Siemens NX CAD/CAM, followed by a 1:1 simulation of the NC program in the DMG MORI Virtual Machine. “The Siemens NX CAM provides the required programming strategy for even the most complex machining operation. And we check feasibility and ensure 100 percent collision safety with the virtual machine," said Jahn, explaining the investment in the software solution. He sees an analogy to the 24 hour race of Le Mans, where Porsche could recently celebrate an impressive double victory: “We often need to deliver top results in the form of high-quality components within 24 hours as well.” Which is why the complex components must be machined error-free at the first attempt. 

Dittmar Lienert, who joined the team when component production was established and is responsible for programming and machining of the components, explained the advantage of the simulation software: “The DMG MORI Virtual Machine holds the same importance for us as the racing simulator for the pilots [drivers]. It enables the 1:1 simulation of real machining on the PC, including machine kinematics and real control.” He experienced getting familiar with the powerful and thus complex software as being straightforward: “We got to where we wanted a lot faster.”

Among the components developed and produced are undercarriage parts and crankshaft housings. They also regularly make modifications to existing parts between the races.  Said Lienert, “Programming in NX CAM and simultaneous simulation of the programs in the DMG MORI Virtual Machine saves a tremendous amount of time, as errors in my programming work or even possible collisions are displayed instantly.” It also means that there isn’t a need to try out the program on the actual machines, which saves a tremendous amount of time.

One feature on both of the machines is called “CELOS,” it is a control-independent interface developed by DMG MORI that includes a variety of apps.  At Porsche Motorsports, Jahn said, “Based on photos, we record components as well as clamping devices in CELOS and manage cut edges and tools.” Another benefit is that it facilitates the required seamless documentation in production.

Jahn is very pleased with the capability that they’ve developed: “With the DMG MORI process chain and CELOS, we program, simulate and produce any complex parts for our racing cars incredibly fast and error-free.”  He suggests that it helps provide the drivers with a “head start” for the gruelling races at venues like Le Mans.