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Siemens improves RML car design

Lindsay James finds out how high performance automotive engineering company RML is relying on Siemens PLM Software technology to deliver the most innovative high performance cars in the industry

RML sets the bar high with everything it does. Designing high performance rally cars, touring cars and prototype sports cars for some of the world’s leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) including General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and Opel, the company has to be fastidious in order to achieve success. And successful it is.

Since its inception in 1984, every race or rally car designed or managed by RML has won its designated championship. The company won the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in partnership with Chevrolet in 2010, 2011 and 2012. It has recently beaten BMW’s all time record of most laps led and highest number of fastest laps in the WTCC competition. And it is currently defending its title in the 2013 FIA WTCC.

RML is also behind some of the greatest engineering advances in the industry. For example, it is helping to design the ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car), the fastest electric racing car in the world, which Nissan will be taking to Le Mans next year.

“We don’t do things by half,” says RML’s commercial manager Andy King. “The RML name represents a passion for cars and, with a 30-year heritage of excellence, we are respected for our exacting standards, as well as our competitive prowess. Teamwork, continuous improvement, quality, integrity and customer focus are some of the values that we live by. We hire the best talent in the business, we train and develop this talent and place great importance on maintaining this culture.”

Siemens NX software is fundamental to what we do on a daily basis

Ron Hartvelt, RML
“RML tends to differentiate itself from its competitors by being a totally professional one-stop organisation, which can deliver high-performance automotive projects as well as all the elements associated with them,” explains George Lendrum, RML’s managing director. “Our relationship is with the OEM client – we try to deliver exactly their requirements.”

With this unique position in the market, RML has to be flexible and imaginative in its thinking. “Our designers are stimulated in a much wider way than, for example, Formula 1 engineers,” King explains. “Our customers are all very different – they have different cultures and they operate in very different ways. If they come to us with a specific problem or challenge, then we need to be agile enough to respond to that and to think outside the box. We need the tools to facilitate this – we can’t be restricted by technology.”

RML’s unwavering commitment to exceptional design means that the company needs the best technology available. With this in mind, the in-house team chose NX from Siemens PLM Software for CAD/CAE/CAM. “We selected what we felt to be the state-of-the-art CAD to work with,” says Lendrum. “That is Siemens NX.”

“Siemens NX software is fundamental to what we do on a daily basis,” adds Ron Hartvelt, WTCC project manager at RML. “The ability to be agile and effective with our design processes is important in the motor sport industry and that’s exactly what NX gives us.”

Using NX, RML has been able to design some world-class performing cars. For example, RML’s champion WTCC car is built on the Chevrolet Cruze. “It is based on a road car shell, however, what we do outside of that, the things you don’t see, are quite advanced,” says Hartvelt. “The engine is a clean sheet design; it is a 1.6 litre turbo engine that has been designed fully in house and the results speak for themselves. It is a fantastic engine.”

Tom Chilton, former British touring car champion and one of RML’s 2013WTCC line up, agrees: “This is the best touring car I’ve ever driven in my life. Everything’s been thought of down to the nth degree and I’m actually astounded at the attention to detail on this car.”

The Nissan DeltaWing project was also developed with Siemens technology. A blueprint for both race and road cars of the future, its revolutionary design is half the weight of a conventional Le Mans prototype. It therefore generates half the drag, so needs half the power and consumes half the fuel. At the heart of the Nissan DeltaWing is an ultra-high efficiency 300 bhp, 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged Nissan engine developed by RML, which weighs just 91kg. The car ran in Garage 56 (a category reserved for experimental vehicles) at Le Mans in 2012 and Michael Mallock, business development manager at RML, describes it as a huge success story. “NX was vital in the development of the Nissan DeltaWing engine,” he says. “For example, we had to spend time removing a lot of weight from the crankshaft. The analysis tools that we use within NX were crucial for that process.”

TEAM Engineering, one of the longest established Siemens resellers in the UK, facilitates the support of NX technology, and is currently in the process of strengthening RML’s technology backbone further with an implementation of Siemens PLM’s Teamcenter solution, which offers advanced product lifecycle management (PLM) built on the Microsoft stack.

“Working hand in hand with RML over the last two years, we have created a state-ofthe-art engineering platform that has made a huge difference to the organisation,” explains Neil Johnson, technical manager at TEAM Engineering. “It’s time to build on that further with the implementation of Teamcenter. This will allow RML to better track and source information and share designs not only locally, but across organisational boundaries as well.”

Built on Microsoft SharePoint and using SQL Server as the enterprise-level PLM database, Teamcenter will give RML’s designers 100 per cent confidence in their ability to find the latest information, work on correct versions and synchronise data between different company sites. “Integrating NX with Teamcenter goes well beyond workgroup CAD data management, enabling design teams of any size, in different locations and throughout the supply chain, to work closely together to streamline product development processes through multi-site collaboration,” says Johnson. “All design information created using NX is captured, controlled and shared in a single, highly secure Teamcenter environment.”

And because of the Microsoft technology inherent in the solution, there will be no need for expensive training programmes. “People need no introduction to these technologies,” says Johnson. “They’re already familiar with the Microsoft user interface – Teamcenter is intuitive by nature.”

Robust and with a low cost of ownership, Teamcenter brings maximum performance with minimum outlay. “Robustness was a key factor here,” says Johnson. “Running the solution on solid state drives means that RML can benefit from 21 times faster performance. What’s more, it’s extremely scalable and offers a much higher return on investment than alternative platforms.”

Looking ahead, there’s no doubt that NX and Teamcenter will be a winning combination that will lead to further success at RML. “Siemens technology already plays a fundamental role in everything we do,” concludes King. “And our relationship with both Siemens PLM Software and TEAM Engineering is stronger than ever. We work very much in a tripartite arrangement in order to equip ourselves for the challenges ahead. Meeting massively aggressive timescales means that this really is a trusted partnership. Moving forwards, I have every confidence that with the integration of NX and Teamcenter, our relationship with these companies will only become deeper and more extensive.”

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