From 0mph to 62mph in 2.8 seconds with a 171mph top speed and more than 500hp: the stats for Audi’s RS 5 DTM racecar are impressive. And they have to be. In 2017, Audi Motorsport had its most successful year ever in Germany’s Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) racing series, and while it fell to third place in 2018, it roared back with a dominant year in 2019 with 1,139 points.
Continuing to build on that success will require an outstanding team of drivers and a perfectly tuned racecar. Reimund Kraus, responsible for quality assurance at Audi Motorsport since 2001, says developing prototype racecars is an ongoing process, and the parts are one-of-a-kind, rather than mass produced. Because Kraus’ work is never done, quality assurance becomes a top priority as failures of critical components could jeopardize the driver’s life. The parts are subject to 100% inspection and measured on a regular basis.
There are no measuring labs at the Audi Motorsport facility in Neuburg an der Donau, Germany. Audi used to transport components about 15 miles to its headquarters in Ingolstadt for measurement, but flexible measuring times were impossible and the team quickly exhausted testing capacity. Kraus had worked with Zeiss Industrial Quality Solutions measuring machines during his time in Quality Assurance at Audi’s headquarters, so he reached out to Zeiss to solve the measurement bottleneck.
Zeiss took on the measuring jobs for the Audi Motorsport team in 2012 and has been performing these at the Zeiss Quality Excellence Center in Neuburg an der Donau since 2015. Kraus says Zeiss PiWeb software made a huge difference because its display system simplified communication with development engineers.
“The measuring house is well-equipped to accommodate our peak phases and plans accordingly,” Kraus says. “However, often our components must be measured quickly and at short notice. We simply can’t wait a week for the results. Luckily, the Zeiss Quality Excellence Center is very flexible and always ready to help – that’s especially important to us.”
Strict test regimen
Zeiss Quality Excellence Center head Carsten Gericke and his team perform 100% inspections for various Audi parts including control arms, tie rods, and spindles, primarily using Zeiss Prismo and Contura coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and a Surfcom system for roughness and contour measurements. The team measures all racecar components regularly, usually around 3,700 miles. If an accident or some other problem occurs before regular scrutiny, Zeiss’ team inspects all parts to ensure safety. The metrology experts also assist with analyzing the measuring process.
“Zeiss has taught us that not all measurements are created equal, which explained why our measurement results differed from those from our suppliers,” Kraus relates.
Armin Eberhardt, deputy head of Zeiss’ inspection lab, says his measurements indicated that a supplier’s measurement method and manufacturing process were faulty.
Like NASCAR, all DTM cars use regulated standard parts, so at a meeting of Germany’s motorsports governing body Deutscher Motor Sport Bund, Eberhardt had to convince representatives from participating manufacturers that his results were correct. The resulting changes to the manufacturing method and measurement results improved safety and quality for all teams.
Kraus concludes, “At our company, the race to the finish starts in the office. Zeiss provides the speed and quality we need, making them the right partner.”