Founded by Gian Paolo Dallara in 1972, Dallara Automobili designs, builds and supports record-setting race car chassis for the world’s most successful and prestigious motor racing series. With revenues in excess of $60 million (US), the company, headquartered in Parma, Italy, has more than 180 employees, including nearly 50 who own Doctorate Degrees in Engineering.
Dallara-built cars have won the 24 Hours of Daytona, as well as the famous Indy 500 race ten times, and the IndyCar Series championship ten times in the last 13 years. Dallara exclusively supplies all cars for the IndyCar Championship, the Indy Lights Series, the GP2 and GP3 Series, the Renault World Series 3.5, and 90% of the world’s new Formula 3 cars. The company has been designing with PTC CAD (computer-aided design) software since 1993.
In July of 2010, Dallara was selected by the IndyCar Series to manufacture the IndyCar Safety Cell beginning in 2012, which means it will be the sole supplier of new cars for the next four years. With this selection, Dallara plans to fulfill its vision of establishing a U.S. facility in Indianapolis that will serve as a Dallara technology center, engineering classroom, visitor destination, and magnet for other auto racing related industries.
Luca Pignacca, Chief Designer at Dallara, exudes enthusiasm and commitment to excellence when he discusses his work at one of the top motor racing design and development companies in the world.
Pignacca describes the process of moving from concept to design to manufacturing as a journey, going “from passion to pure emotion.” At the same time, he emphasizes the need for industry-leading safety and performance, quick product lifecycles, and super flexibility.
“By definition, we are a ‘competitive company,’” says Pignacca. “Racing is our DNA.”
Part of Dallara’s competitive advantage comes from the software, hardware and services the company uses in designing and building its world-renowned cars. Pignacca speaks as positively about the software and hardware he uses as he does about the record-setting cars he and his team design and build.
Back in 1993, Dallara first started using, and later standardized on, Creo 3D computer-aided design (CAD) software from PTC, a global leader in Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions for discrete manufacturing companies. Since that time, Dallara has taken advantage of other PTC products, including Creo Simulate for design analysis and PTC Pro/INTRALINK for managing CAD data.
More recently, Dallara installed Windchill PDMLink on IBM Blade Servers running on the AIX operating system for an initiative called “Project Collaboration,” which aims to promote communication and information-sharing across the company.
“We’ve had very, very good results with Creo for handling the complete design, the mechanical components and the body components,” explains Pignacca. “Now we are utilizing Windchill PDMLink because our designers want to share all their information throughout the company to improve efficiency and productivity.”
Dallara’s relationship with PTC has moved from one of being not only a customer and user, but also a Performance Partner, a designation for engineering design firms that focus on high-performance industries, such as racecars. Performance Partners provide brand awareness marketing support for PTC.
Originally, in its design office of approximately 50 people, Dallara used PTC Pro/INTRALINK for managing Creo CAD models. In 2008, with the assistance of their services partner Advantage, Dallara’s design office moved to Windchill PDMLink, which is Web-based and intuitive when managing releases and approvals.
Windchill PDMLink, together with Windchill ProjectLink, manages much more than CAD data. Windchill PDMLink can also manage critical processes, such as change/configuration management and release to manufacturing. Windchill ProjectLink provides access to the right product development and project management information, keeping dispersed teams well aligned, while increasing collaboration and speeding the completion of projects.
“Precisely for these reasons, in the coming months Windchill PDMLink will be used to manage other files in other departments,” explains Pignacca. “Both the functionality and domain will be extended. As Windchill PDMLink is extended to the entire company, we expect to also use Windchill ProjectLink. The use of Windchill ProjectLink will be boosted by the start of a new Dallara design and manufacturing facility in Indianapolis. Groups of designers on both sides of the ocean will extensively use Windchill ProjectLink to work on the same database and to always be aligned on the right information.”
The decision to implement “Project Collaboration” was made after Dallara analyzed its internal demands. “We started with the strategy, and then tried to find a product with all the necessary features that would satisfy such a strategy,” said Pignacca. “Windchill PDMLink was compared with other software solutions and surpassed the benchmark we set for managing and sharing project-related information.”