Throughout the university holiday period, Monash Motorsport has been hard at work with the design and timelining of two brand new car concepts for the 2017 Australasian competition this December. Having design period during the holiday months allows the team to focus purely on designing without the stresses of the university semester, while also maximising the amount of time the team has to manufacture and test. This year has been no different, with the team coming back together on the 4th of January 2017 to begin creating the M17 Electric and Combustion concepts.
The two-month Monash design period is broken up into a set of predetermined milestones which each part designer must meet as their design develops. These milestones, along with their corresponding deadlines, are decided in the previous year as one of the first tasks for the incoming leadership team. Such a design structure emulates a real-world engineering design cycle where a component will progress from an initial proof of concept to a fully fledged final design. In 2017, the milestones that constitute our design period have been a research phase, concept and preliminary design phases, and then a final design stage. Following this, part designers will finalise and freeze their designs complete with detailed engineering drawings, and begin the outsourcing process. After each milestone, Monash alumni are also invited down to Clayton to participate in a formal design review with the team, where every part designer presents their progress and then receives constructive feedback.
During the concept and research phase, as part designers begin modelling their designs, a full car master model is generated using Siemens NX10, kindly provided by the software experts, PhoenxPLM. Separated into section subassemblies, the master model allows our chief engineers to easily integrate individual components and systems. Due to the iterative process of the design, the full car concept is constantly being updated, with everyone needing to get their latest design in before each milestone deadline.
Throughout each stage in the design process, Monash part designers are required to document their evolving concepts in a central wiki. This has benefits from both an accountability and knowledge transfer perspective. Having each part designer documenting their design work in the same place allows the leadership team, and more specifically the chief engineers, to easily track the progression of each part design and identify those which are falling behind, keeping each part designer accountable to their progress. As it is accessible to all team members, every member of the team is also able to add their input on each design.
Through the wiki documentation, designers are also able to understand the concept and manufacturing processes from previous years. In particular, they can identify and understand how things may have failed, so as to reduce the repetition of error and allow for the continual improvement of the vehicle design from year to year.
As the team now settles into their studies for the university semester, the M17 Electric and Combustion designs have been frozen, and manufacturing is now well underway!
– Connor Tilbrook (Team Leader)