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Fast track housings for rally car tracking systems

12 May 2013

International rally car racing involves good preparation, exact timing, teamwork and, above all, high speed.

A Spanish company, which specialises in bespoke onboard sensing and data acquisition systems for moving vehicles, was awarded a contract in December 2012 for the 2013 World Rally Championship season, to work on the tracking system in-car unit, which must be fitted to all participating cars.

Tracking systems are necessary in order to geo-position all rally cars every ten seconds, to provide stage split times, to provide a Yellow Flag warning to alert all drivers on the stage if there is a problem and to provide an SOS button in case of accident. It also provides movement alert and/or other position related alarms from internal sensors. The units are controlled from Race HQ and all can be programmed and set via GSM/GPRS and/or UHF radio link.  

The units are attached to a carbon fibre support inside the cabin of the vehicle. The main unit is a GSM/GPRS/GPS multifunctional box, with several digital inputs, tri-axial accelerometers and movement sensors, a CAN interface and two serial interfaces. The unit has GPS and GSM antennas.

A separate UHF/GPS box provides a secondary GPS signal plus a UHF uplink to a local repeater aircraft. The units have internal power supply conditioning and a two-hour battery to ensure functionality after power off or in the event of an accident. 

For the Spanish company charged with designing and manufacturing these units, time was of the essence as the first event was the Monte Carlo Rally at the end of January. Vero Technologies supplied the extruded aluminium enclosures, modified and engraved end panels and IP65 gaskets that house the equipment – all within just three days of receiving the order. Standard product stock availability, a fast response and good communications from Vero Technologies enabled the Spanish company to meet its commitments.

Vero won the business to supply the enclosure as the result of a good stock position and a rapid turn round on the modified parts. With the standard products in stock, an online order was placed on  December 18 for an initial 70 standard cases and IP65 gaskets.

In the ensuing correspondence, Vero were asked to supply 160 sets of five different modified and engraved end panels. Contractor drawings were received on December 19 and converted into the manufacturing drawings on the same day. The first 90 sets were manufactured on December 20 and shipped the following day.

Errors in the supplied drawings against the specification were noticed during production of one of the panels. After analysing the problem, Vero opened intensive communications by phone and email with a suggested modification; the change was accepted and the shipment made on January 4.

Good communications and quick shipping at a difficult time of year paid dividends on this contract. Vero’s design and production people worked flat out to ensure that the order was fulfilled on time, on budget and, above all, the enclosures were exactly as required for the job.

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