FMEA and Thinking Heads for the Green Lion

The Formula Student race on the Hockenheimring is by no means a soapbox derby. You can see Formula 1 standard high-tech here. Under the leadership of Professor and Doctor of Engineering Peter Gust, tech-mad students from all subject areas come together here every year to develop a carbon racer with professional ambitions.

The highlight is the showdown at Hockenheimring, where many countries compete against each other: Here you’ll find students of German language and literature that work for PR as well as budding mechanical engineers and economic students who are more comfortable around nuts and bolts than they are checking statements. Right there at the starting line: The Green Lion Racing Team from Wuppertal is easy to recognize: Their racer proudly shows a green lion.

Plan to succeed...
Twice as big as a go-kart and half the size of a Formula 1 car, the Green Lion certainly remains faithful to the “self-made” concept. Almost all of its components were made by the students themselves. Ultimately, speed counts less than having the best overall performance in the construction, financial planning, marketing and race performance categories. The prototype for a Formula-style racing car was created as the product of a fictitious company under the official regulations of Formula SAE. It is only natural that quality assurance plays a huge role here. After all, what good is a racing car if it hasn’t been thoroughly checked? What if errors in its construction have been overlooked? The students use the failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), which is the most frequently used methodology for quality management within the automotive industry. Philip vom dem Bussche, the team captain, created his own FMEA. This identified the explicit requirements so that solutions for how to meet these requirements could be found. After all, there are no professionals at the start line in Hockenheim, only students. Systematic procedures were particularly important for the project. The Thinking Heads method was used to produce effective concepts by identifying requirements and solutions. This demonstrated both structured thinking and creativity. The team has already won the international Riedel call for tender of the previous year. There, too, the team created a future-proof concept on the theme “The Automotive Industry of Tomorrow.” After their win, the sponsor provided them with 7,500 Euros’ worth of communication equipment. This was a great incentive and aid for the team’s media presentation.

Proving your worth when the bar is high
To qualify to participate in the race, students from all over the world had to take a quiz on the body of regulations and finish it as quickly as possible. In contrast to the universities from cities such as Hamburg or Berlin, the Green Lion Racing Team is quite small. Of course, if a team receives support from Porsche or BMW, has the best academics on their side and also has five times more manpower to work with, then that offers a fairly clear advantage. The Wuppertal students, however, were not intimidated. They are wont to prove their worth when the bar is high: The previous year, the team already scored highly in terms of intellect and speed, and could hold their own against the other teams. With a time of 7 minutes and 58 seconds, they secured 14th place out of 426 last year, and thus qualified for the race. The person who contributed most to the vehicle’s construction gets to drive. 

Visions of the future
The inventors of today will become the top engineers of tomorrow! The OEMs are well aware of this. All the big OEM groups send their HR representatives to the races to recruit the young talents as soon as they come off the race course. The main reason for taking part in the races, along with having fun, is to explore the opportunity to gain practical experience in construction and manufacturing as well as the related economic aspects, and to thus enrich your studies. This also explains why young people would rather dedicate their time to this project than going, say, Pokemon hunting. 2017 was the year that the Wuppertal racing team built its fifth car. The petrol heads have taken on a big challenge – this year, autonomous driving is meant to come into play. A huge leap forward, especially when we consider that automation hasn’t really got a foothold on the day-to-day automotive market yet.

Fans are welcome
Thanks to the support they received, the team was able to take on this huge project. Sponsors are indispensable, both in terms of financing and providing the necessary know-how. As a result, Babtec Informationssysteme GmbH has decided to support the project.