How Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team steers efficiency and compliance in its pursuit of F1 excellence
- F1's decision to put a spending cap on improving car performance has leveled the playing field for teams. Robert Yeowart of the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team explains how they've implemented IFS to achieve their 'moment of service' within these regulations.
Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One™ Team could not have earned its 500+ Grand Prix wins without constant focus on performance. Our current goal – to win the F1 Championships – requires the same level of focus, but this year it demands even more attention to financial detail due to new spending rules.
A leading F1 team is run like any other business, and we need efficient processes right across the piece, great visibility of assets, cost control, and real-time, granular management information.
The new F1 spending cap
New rules have come into effect for the 2021 season after F1’s racing body announced a cap on the amount teams can spend on improving car performance. Limiting spend in this way is entirely new for the sector. Traditionally those teams with the deepest pockets have been able to spend more, so the cap should help smaller, less well-resourced teams compete on a more level playing field. But prudent money management and extra focus on spending where it can have the greatest effect will be vitally important.
To ensure the cap is complied with and parts are assigned to the correct accounting period we can be audited at any time. There will be a parts tracking system to provide clarity on when parts have first been used in a car. Our enterprise software will manage this for us, and it will give us the added benefit of detailed oversight on the performance of each part so that we can plan its lifecycle.
Embedded in everything we do
Our moment of service is all about making sure performance, reliability and continuous improvement come together. We design and build the fastest cars we can, we make sure they are reliable to complete races and we improve whatever we can at every step. If we get all that right, our effort wins races. In order to get that right we need to take informed make and buy decisions, accelerate parts production and orchestrate logistics for parts globally.
We implemented IFS as the backbone for achieving our moment of service. Right from the off they understood that our engineering lifecycles are reactive, short and fast, and their solutions for both business management and production were aligned to this fact of our everyday life.
The scale and scope of what we’ve achieved, even though it is early days for us, is transformational. For example, our financial efficiency has doubled. We can do things we couldn’t before, including automating processes such as ingesting invoices, automatically matching them and managing exceptions.
It’s not just our finance systems that have benefitted. We also use the software across production, engineering and manufacturing operations, and related business areas. These really are the core areas of our business, and they’re all now fully modernized. In production, for example, our legacy systems were constraining throughput, but now we have far better visibility of inventory and work in progress.
We now have access to real-time management information, and this means decision-making is improved. We can, for example, accurately control our stock position and decide when we should subcontract parts or manufacture in-house. And, because we have access to a mobile app, we can access stock and purchasing information trackside. It really is information at your fingertips whenever it’s needed.
The efficiencies we now have can help us improve a whole gamut of processes. We’re already seeing accelerated production throughput, along with improvements across production control, procurement, warehouse management, quality management and project management. It is easier for us to share and analyse information, see and respond to trends, and spot anomalies that need action. Across the whole business we are able to make better decisions based on more accurate information. Nowhere is this more important than in managing our parts costs to comply with the new spending cap.
A cost efficient, performance focused future
Our current system has replaced legacy technology and technical debt with full modernization. We can now understand where we're spending our money thanks to detailed cost analysis we didn’t have access to before. From a production perspective, our legacy systems were constraining throughput. We can do things we couldn’t before, including automating processes such as ingesting invoices, auto matching them, and managing exceptions. We’re already seeing less backlogs.
We can track inventory and answer questions like ‘What parts do we have available to us?’, ‘What state are they in?’, and ‘How many parts are in the building and how much does each cost?’
We can order parts at trackside. Our financial systems are smooth and efficient. We can make informed projections, respond to information at speed. We can even do a ‘pound for lap time’ ratio analysis, for the first time objectively looking at how much one upgrade might cost versus another, and the resulting performance improvement in lap time for each.
We always have an eye on the future and our business software will also play an important role when we move into a new purpose-built smart factory at the end of 2022, becoming the first team in 20 years to do so. We’ll have access to state-of-the-art data management features, part of which will be Internet of Things capability which will gather data in real-time so we can analyse, troubleshoot, and develop at speed. We’ll create digital twins of both car and components to further optimize visibility and automate wherever possible. The mobile app is also extremely powerful – it supports fast authorizations globally, and trackside access to stock and purchasing information.
By embracing enterprise resource planning (ERP) and embedding it across the whole business we’re putting ourselves on a great footing to make every pound we spend work really hard in our pursuit of more F1 wins in the current season and beyond.