Getting into the Groove:
Andrews Products on the Fast Track with TK Solver™
For Andrews products, Inc. of Mount Prospect, IL, failure is not an option. Recognized as an industry leader in the automotive racing market, some of the biggest names in NASCAR racing rely on Andrews Products.
Touted as the country's most popular spectator sport, NASCAR - an acronym for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing - is also the fastest growing. And Andrews takes the checkered flag on high performance transmission gears and racing engine camshafts with consistent winning results.
“In thousands of race miles over many different track conditions, there has not been a single Andrews Products transmission gear failure,” says Mark O’Neill, gear engineer at Andrews.
When you build high-performance components for the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Roush Racing, Evernham Motorsports, and Chip Ganassi Racing, being second best just doesn’t cut it. O’Neill says their goal is to design and manufacture products that will outlast and out-perform anything else on the market. What’s their secret to success? Andrews Products has expertly maneuvered itself to the front of the pack using a combination of homegrown software applications and TK Solver from Universal Technical Systems, Inc. of Rockford, IL.
“Design is much more complicated and in depth than it was even two years ago,” O’Neill explains, “With TK Solver there are so many possibilities … it sparks your imagination!”
TK Solver is also the underlying platform and calculation engine that powers the UTS Integrated Gear Software (IGS) suite. O’Neill, who has been using TK Solver and IGS for more than ten years says that when it comes to designing custom gears for high performance vehicles, a conventional approach won’t work.
“If you design a gear ‘by the book’ it won’t work in a high performance vehicle. The trick is to learn how to twist the geometry and take something that by all accounts – shouldn’t work - and make it work.”
The inherent ability to use guess values to backsolve makes TK Solver the premier tool for testing “what if” and “how do I get a certain result” scenarios, something O’Neill finds invaluable.
“TK Solver helps me turn a marginal design into a great design — one that works,” says O’Neill.
While O’Neill designs both parallel and cross axis gears, he admits that cross axis cam gear design can be a bit tricky. He adds that their customers rely on them to keep on top of the technology and TK Solver is a great tool for confirming that his highly custom designs will work.
“Without your software I would be lost,” says O’Neill. “TK Solver helps take me from concept to finished design – it’s the only commercial software package we use.”
O’Neill says racing is much more engineering based than it’s ever been and that’s where Andrews Products shines. What’s more, they have the winning stats to prove it.
In last year’s Winston Cup Series alone, their customers garnered an impressive: 18 wins, 12 poles, and 148 top 10 finishes in 36 races. This year is shaping up to be even better!
Statistics as of May 24, 2004
Nextel Cup Series (formerly Winston Cup): 10 wins, 4 poles, and 102 top 10 finishes.
Busch Grand National: 10 wins, 6 poles, and 48 top 10 finishes.
With more than 90 races in 25 states each year through three racing circuits, NASCAR has turned into a billion-dollar industry with a loyal fan base.
O’Neill admits that being part of the NASCAR phenomenon is very exciting and describes their winning stats as a “huge pride builder” internally. He says that if you look at manufacturing in general, so many employees produce parts and have no idea where they go once they’ve been shipped. Not so with Andrews’ employees.
“Every Monday morning we update the stats,” says O’Neill. “It’s a real morale booster, something everybody can feel good about.”