How are technical problems / issues tracked, prioritized and managed by F1 teams

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SunsAnvil
SunsAnvil
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How are technical problems / issues tracked, prioritized and managed by F1 teams

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I work in Medical Devices and we often have difficulty getting well documented feedback from the field.
In such a heavily regulated / cost conscious as Medical Devices we often struggle to get feedback from the field because the service engineers perceive that their "gripe" will not get fixed.

I wanted to use the F1 analogy that issues found at the race track must be efficiently fed back and processed by the factory because they cannot afford to have serviceability, reliability or other quality issues if they want to win.

So I am wondering if anyone on this board has any ideas about what systems / processes are used in F1. I was thinking about both during pre-season testing which is kind of like before the device hits the market (where there may be a strong factory prescence working hand in hand with the guys at the track) but also later in the race season when, especially for teams with lower budgets, you cannot have an army of factory people at the track.

Efficient triaging, prioritizing and implementation of updates are critical to success!

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3jawchuck
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Re: How are technical problems / issues tracked, prioritized and managed by F1 teams

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SunsAnvil wrote:I work in Medical Devices and we often have difficulty getting well documented feedback from the field.
In such a heavily regulated / cost conscious as Medical Devices we often struggle to get feedback from the field because the service engineers perceive that their "gripe" will not get fixed.

I wanted to use the F1 analogy that issues found at the race track must be efficiently fed back and processed by the factory because they cannot afford to have serviceability, reliability or other quality issues if they want to win.

So I am wondering if anyone on this board has any ideas about what systems / processes are used in F1. I was thinking about both during pre-season testing which is kind of like before the device hits the market (where there may be a strong factory prescence working hand in hand with the guys at the track) but also later in the race season when, especially for teams with lower budgets, you cannot have an army of factory people at the track.

Efficient triaging, prioritizing and implementation of updates are critical to success!
This is an interesting question. Do teams have someone managing the priority of issues and such, do they use software, checklists and so on? Are there major differences between teams? There are probably industry standards, but I don't know of any.
“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” --Ernest Hemingway

CBeck113
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Re: How are technical problems / issues tracked, prioritized and managed by F1 teams

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SunsAnvil wrote:I work in Medical Devices and we often have difficulty getting well documented feedback from the field.
In such a heavily regulated / cost conscious as Medical Devices we often struggle to get feedback from the field because the service engineers perceive that their "gripe" will not get fixed.

I wanted to use the F1 analogy that issues found at the race track must be efficiently fed back and processed by the factory because they cannot afford to have serviceability, reliability or other quality issues if they want to win.
Hi SunsAnvil, I'm also from Service Engineering, and am currently in the transformer (tier 1) business. Before I explain my experience (none of which is F1), I have to make a very important point: a formula 1 team is a closed loop, so everyone at the track is very aware of the information needed for the factory to solve the issues - they don't have issues with information flow because they are in a testing environment. We, on the other hand, hope to receive information from owners who's only interest is having their machinery back up and running, they're losing money when they are down. That is what drives all actions at the site - they are not interest in investigations, they want their stuff working again. With this in mind, I believe that the difference is pretty obvious, and not easily changed with processes or incentives. I'm a certified 6Sigma Black Belt, and my current data set does not even contain statistical data - a true nightmare! I do not receive the number of operations at the time of failure, so I cannot even use Weibull for failure prediction (something F1 could use for test bed results for instance, but track testing has a too small sample size for it to be useful).
We, in the industry, need to prioritize by safety, then image, then costs, then failure population. Then, we need to add those customers who complain directly to management - they get more attention then others (sadly). At the same time, every investigation we start costs money - our time first, then the others we involve until we need to start tying up resources from other departments like engineering or manufacturing. So the further we go, with or without success, the more we cost our companies.
It would be more efficient and therefore cheaper to get the information and resolve the issues, but then you let a handful of customers suffer for your own interests first, while eliminating risk for your other customers. We understand the need, but being the owner of a 10mil€ transformer or a 250k€ construction equipment (my old area), you have your interest of earning money through uptime, not through helping other customers. The solution? 1) Involve and train the service techs in the problem resolution process, and 2) use your sales techniques to convince your customer to help, without losing him to the competition, by making him feel important to your process and your company. Those are your current chances for better information, in the future online monitoring is a service model which both our industries will need to propagate to reduce our costs.
I'll stop here for now, before I get carried away (can happen now and again I've realized ;-) .
“Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!” Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Greg Locock
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Re: How are technical problems / issues tracked, prioritized and managed by F1 teams

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I don't know how F1 does it. I do know how it is done in the auto industry, and I have also been involved in the problem resolution process on two smaller projects, neither of which involved customers.

On the solar car race we were such a small team that basically when we had a problem it was just a case of Hey Smoke Doctor- fix this! Solar cars are rather simple.

On the other project the engineering team was even smaller but we also had some proto builds with several dozen line workers, so I just used to run a 3*5 card deck with each problem written on a new card. In practice because we were a small team this was probably a bit OTT.

Jersey Tom
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Re: How are technical problems / issues tracked, prioritized and managed by F1 teams

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Having worked in aerospace engineering, a tier 1 automotive industry supplier, and now at a very high level of pro motorsport, I'm not entirely sure I'd be looking at F1 / pro racing for answers here. It's really just an entirely different animal on several levels, including size and scope of the endeavor, and the pace at which the sands or goal posts shift.

With regard to size and scope, pro racing is a drop in the bucket. The R&D budget of Ford alone could fund the entire F1 field, if I remember right. Just vastly larger with way more stuff going on. I've also found that in racing, "prioritization" is more of a binary thing than any sort of real scale. There's absolutely immediately critical, and then there's everything else. There are things on my "nice to have" wish list that go back to probably 2011-2012, but ultimately get bumped by more pressing needs.

Aerospace is where I saw probably the most complete tracking systems, with a lot of detail and documentation, and time to address things methodically.

In any event, with regard to issue tracking, there are a slew of software solutions out there, or you can roll your own. That's the trivially easy part. The problem it sounds like you're having, and it occurs everywhere, is lack of buy-in. That might be because of lack of confidence in your system, or it might be lack of confidence in the people these issues get kicked up to. In a way, they're one and the same.

The more simple you can make the system, the better. I will share that with my end users, if something goes awry, there is a one-click option that will automatically gather up all the relevant information, fire up Outlook, compose an email to myself and relevant parties, attach the info, and shoot it off. (Obviously that's not always feasible with physical part failures, but it's an example)

More importantly from the support end, you've got to demonstrate to the field users that you're proactive about getting --- done. The more you can show that, the more they'll want to use it. In my case, if an issue pops up, it's usually a < 10 minute turnaround time for a solution. Doesn't matter if it's 7:05am Monday morning as things are starting up for the week, or 8:30pm Saturday night after qualifying.

So in your case, if your field users feel like passing a gripe or issue up the chain won't get resolved - are they right? Is that a legitimate observation? Even among race engineers there's filtering of what should / could get kicked up the support chain and when.

Ultimately I feel like this sort of thing always boils down to efficient management and proactive engineers and support staff that get out in the field and show that they give a --- and get stuff done.
Grip is a four letter word. All opinions are my own and not those of current or previous employers.

SunsAnvil
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Re: How are technical problems / issues tracked, prioritized and managed by F1 teams

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In my case, systems are not the problem. Process could be better but culture is the main issue. You don't change culture with new systems or new procedures but by selling visions hence the idea of using "if you want to win look at winners" visual imagery.

Jersey Tom
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Re: How are technical problems / issues tracked, prioritized and managed by F1 teams

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SunsAnvil wrote:In my case, systems are not the problem. Process could be better but culture is the main issue. You don't change culture with new systems or new procedures but by selling visions hence the idea of using "if you want to win look at winners" visual imagery.
Not sure I agree with that. You change culture with hands-on results, not visions. If there's one takeaway from pro racing, it's that.

So again I'd say - if the concern is that problems won't be resolved... is that a valid gripe? Gotta get out there and demonstrate that feedback is being taken seriously, and that things are being done. Short of that, culture won't change.
Grip is a four letter word. All opinions are my own and not those of current or previous employers.

SunsAnvil
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Re: How are technical problems / issues tracked, prioritized and managed by F1 teams

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Agree and disagree. Sure you need results but results don't come if you keep repeating the same mistakes so you need a vision of where you want to go long before you get results. For example, when Ross Braun bought up what is today Mercedes, I doubt he said that he would simply keep doing the same old things that Honda had been doing before.

CBeck113
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Re: How are technical problems / issues tracked, prioritized and managed by F1 teams

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SunsAnvil wrote:
Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:57 am
Agree and disagree. Sure you need results but results don't come if you keep repeating the same mistakes so you need a vision of where you want to go long before you get results. For example, when Ross Braun bought up what is today Mercedes, I doubt he said that he would simply keep doing the same old things that Honda had been doing before.
He bought up Honda because he knew he had a winning car, so the risk was minimal.

You can't copy a vision and expect it to work for your company - you have to create one that fits your company's needs. Only then will you have a chance to create change. Believe me, it's a lot of work and sacrifice, and it starts with yourself [copying a solution (vision) is trying to take the easy way - you don't want to reinvent the wheel, but none that exist fit your vehicle].
“Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!” Monty Python and the Holy Grail