QMT Features: May 2011
Lotus race with accuracy
F1 Team Lotus achieve pole position for accuracy using advanced, high precision bore gauging technology

Having been absent from Formula 1 racing since 1994, the legendary Lotus name made a welcome return to the sport when the FIA granted Lotus Racing entry into the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, on September 12th 2009.

From its high-tech base in Hingham, Norfolk, near the original home of Team Lotus, the new team set about its self-imposed 2010 challenge of becoming the most successful of the new Formula 1 teams. After achieving its first season mission, Team Lotus is now looking forward to the 2011 season with extremely high hopes for further movement up the grid. Having launched the long awaited T128 car on 31st January 2011, all at Team Lotus are delighted at the considerable progress made.

The T128 will be powered by Renault engines, as used by the Championship winning Red Bull Racing team in 2010.  The similarities with Red Bull also extend to the new T128 gearbox and hydraulic systems that will be bolted onto the Renault engines. Supplied by Red Bull Technology, the proven new package represents an incredibly powerful, reliable and aerodynamically efficient new powertrain that will help Team Lotus take the fight to the established teams from the start of the new season.

Team Lotus production and race teams are housed in an impressive 50,000 square foot, high-tech facility that is comprehensively equipped to enable the team to face the challenges of a very aggressive car build programme. Team Lotus boasts an impressive machine shop which comprises advanced CNC mills and lathes, machining centres and support equipment.

The company’s advanced composites function is equipped with two modern autoclaves, one large enough to accommodate the largest of F1 carbon components, a large pattern shop, including 5-axis router, and an impressive clean room for laminating key car parts. Team Lotus is also in the early stages of building a dedicated wind tunnel that will enable complete in-house control of its design, testing and development programmes. A modern quality and inspection department comprehensively equipped with hi-tech inspection and testing equipment opens out onto the race shop where cars are built, re-built and prepared for racing.

In an industry where the accuracy of machined parts can translate into the milliseconds that can mean the difference between success and failure, and the meticulous examination of manufactured components can help prevent parts malfunctioning in race situations, extremely precise inspection routines play a decisive role. When recently faced with the need to find an ultra precise range of bore gauges to enable the  dimensional inspection of critical bores located on vital Team Lotus components,  Jeremy Galimore, Team Lotus quality manager purchased a range of Ultima bore gauges from Bowers Metrology.

Now in regular use within the busy Team Lotus Inspection department, Bowers’ Ultima bore gauges are making an important contribution to the team’s quest for accuracy. Jeremy Galimore said; “Although a wide range of high quality physical measuring instruments are readily available for very accurate external measuring tasks, the choice of very precise internal measuring devices, capable of bore diameter measurement, is somewhat limited. The Bowers instruments have been able to match our accuracy needs. Although we generally use the gauges in a micron display mode, occasionally we also make use of their sub-micron capability.

Despite Ultima’s high precision, the instruments have proven to be very easy to use, and as they exert a constant measuring force, our operators achieve exactly the same readings even when used in a high resolution mode. 
Postscript: in response to  high-tech industries’ growing requirements for sub-micron capable bore gauge,  Bowers Metrology have launched what they call the new Gold-Standard in bore gauging. The Ultima range is able to measure bore sizes from 1 – 300 mm, with resolutions up to 0.0001 mm.

The Ultima employs a simple lever operation with a constant measuring force, ensuring  ease of use and repeatability, under laboratory or shop-floor conditions. Features includes Bowers FASTFIT measuring heads with extended measuring ranges,  tolerance settings, statistical analysis and multi-channel facilities.l
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Rob Tremain Photographer
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