Siemens PLM Software solutions for design and analysis are used by the British team to build a thoroughly innovative catamaran that is at the same time stable and safe, and able to compete for victory in one of the world’s most sought-after and famous sailing competitions.
Land Rover BAR, formed in June 2014, includes expert sailors, designers and technicians led by Sir Ben Ainslie, five times Olympic medallist (including four golds), winner of the 34th America’s Cup and perhaps the most decorated British seamen after Lord Nelson. History suggests that a new team has little chance of winning the America’s Cup, the famous race that will be held in June 2017 at Great Sound in the Bermudas, but Land Rover BAR doesn’t care about the statistics and aims to bring the prestige America’s Cup back to Britain, where the first challenge was held in 1851 off the Isle of Wight. With this objective, in mid-2014, two and a half years before the date of the race, Land Rover BAR began designing, evaluating and testing, at its headquarters in Portsmouth, England, an ACC (America’s Cup Class) high-performance wing foiled catamaran, based on a vast range of Siemens PLM Software technologies. Basically the teams are not allowed to launch their catamarans until 150 days before the 2017 America’s Cup qualifying event. But at the beginning of 2016, the team had already built an AC45 class model to compete in the America’s Cup World Series: the experience built up in developing this boat was of vital importance in becoming a competitive challenger in the America’s Cup.
To compete successfully with the other teams, Land Rover BAR needs to be able to modify designs quickly and produce or purchase new components very quickly so as to carry out reliable tests on the performance and any modifications before the definitive launch of the new ACC catamaran in January 2017. “In the end this race is one in the water and on dry land. The America’s Cup is the tops and sailing. You need the best sailors in the world and the best teams but, to create the fastest boat, each team tries to secure even the smallest advantage guaranteed by design and technology,” says Ainslie, team principal and skipper of Land Rover BAR. “We have created a team, where following the right philosophy and we have the right design tools, in fact we’ve kept up with the existing teams, even if we are operating with tight timing and under pressure. The big challenges for us are: the aerodynamics, since most of the boat is out of the water, optimising the power available and finally understanding the control systems by analysing the data. The competition is intense and races are usually won by a handful of seconds.”
The Siemens PLM Software solutions
Siemens PLM Software is one of the world leaders in PLM – product life-cycle management – and MOM – manufacturing operations management. Land Rover BAR chose to adopt an integrated virtual environment for design, modelling and digital simulation instruments, NX, Teamcenter, Femap and Fibersim software, suites for engineering (design and production) of composite’s. In particular NX and Teamcenter offer an integrated environment from design to production: together, and thanks to digital management of the life-cycle and visualisation, they permit a complete and exhaustive development process from the concept to the launch. These tools are used in combination with CFD (computational fluid dynamic) analysis tools of the Starr-CCM+ software by CD-Adapco, a company recently bought by Siemens. As a result, simultaneous analyses of structural components make it possible to save time and the simulation of complex composites avoids potential damage. This synergic environment allows the team to develop an optimal design process for 3-D printing, which ensures accuracy and reliability. Land Rover BAR has gained efficiency by operating in a single virtual environment and using tools that support innovation and continuous improvement, facilitating an agile response to modifications implemented by competitors. “The Siemens PLM Software solutions really allow us to organise our ideas and ensure they are put into practice,” says Ainslie. “This is why we decided to use Siemens PLM Software and we’ve been really impressed by the progress so far.”
The height of navigation technology
“The difference in performance generally comes from building a boat that can reduce resistance, improving the way in which the keel and rudder systems right the boat at the correct moment and using the sales for maximum power,” says Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of Land Rover BAR. “These principles still apply in the America’s Cup, but only 1% of the surface of the boats is actually in the water when they are racing. So aerodynamic considerations become extremely important, especially since these boats can sail 2.8 times faster than the wind.”
Siemens PLM Software solutions allow Land Rover BAR to analyse rapidly several geometric options to find the best balance between speed and stability in a reliable way. “Generating geometries in a simple and rapid way is fundamental because every question we ask ourselves starts from geometry,” says Andy Claughton, Chief Technology Officer of Land Rover BAR. “The ability of the NX system to use scripts and produce hundreds of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) geometries at the touch of a button is a huge advantage.”
The design team has to produce a light and efficient system that can handle enormous loads while remaining within safety margins. For Land Rover BAR, the use of Siemens PLM Software solutions is crucial for simulating the performance of appendages, evaluating the aeroelastic capacity of the wing, defining the behaviour of composite materials, modelling hydraulic systems, optimising development processes and rationalising workflow. The use of NX simplifies interaction between the crew and the design team. Most of the tests on the designs, analyses and performance have to be carried out on scale digital simulation models and on AC45 class catamarans, which are used for the America’s Cup World Series races. For Ainslie the only way to validate the design process is to test the boat in the water. “The crew is a continuous source of information for the designers. When we sail we constantly work to perfect the boat and give feedback to the design team.”
Getting top level results
Siemens PLM Software solutions simplify the complex and integrated repetitions of design and analysis that offer new levels of performance for rapidly generating possible shapes so that the crew and technical team can easily access the design data from a tablet or mobile phone. All this behind-the-scenes work is done for a series of reasons: safety, reliability, rapid assembly and implementation of last-minute changes during the race. Use of NX scripting allows the workflow to be customised, while Teamcenter allows the team to manage all the technical data and documentation. NX “transforms” the entire product development process, allowing Land Rover BAR to use fewer physical prototypes, improve quality, shorten cycle times and offer more innovative products. During the competition, when modifications are required on the boat designers review the digital model and control the 3-D image of the modifications with senior team technicians. The digital data collected provide information to the in-house production systems to manufacture new and redesigned components. External component suppliers too use these digital data. The NX modelling functions guarantee that the defined geometrical relationships, and those required by the rules, are maintained when design modifications are considered.
Land Rover BAR uses Teamcenter to control the entire development process, from CAD through simulation up to the creation of plans ready for manufacture and installation. The aim is to produce a complete design profile that is updated every day; a boat that is completely serialised with all components connected to a service program that shows the time they have been used for and how positive performance was. Teamcenter is also suitable for support when the boat is moored, so that land staff can interrogate it and acquire data, including monitoring performance tests or manufacturing component. The intention is to make it easy to keep track of the sailing configuration and know which parts have been replaced, making maintenance easier for the crew.
” Teamcenter offers a single working environment. Now we have defined a library of components and workflows, we don’t always have to start again from scratch,” says Andy Claughton. “Every boat starts from the design of the preceding one and we often use the clone instrument to duplicate certain components or subsystems, and rapidly try out a different approach. We can carry out two or three different development flows from a baseline and then group them together.”