© Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

Built to last

Reliability is one of the aspects that decides whether a racing car can win a Formula OneTM championship. It is also a decisive factor for the market success of ebm-papst fans.


A worst-case scenario for any Formula OneTM team: After painstaking preparations, a racing car must be withdrawn on during the race weekend because of a technical issue. Similar scenarios involving vital cooling systems are also a concern for the operators of data centers and other critical infrastructure. A failure of the cooling systems would lead to overheating of the systems and could endanger the safety of the sensitive data stored in them. To avoid such scenarios, both Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and ebm-papst work constantly on the reliability of their systems and products.

Spotlight on reliability

Reliable cooling systems are vital for the operators of data centers and other critical infrastructure. (Photo | ebm-papst)

James Allison, Technical Director of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, recalls that that was not always the case in Formula OneTM. “There was a time when Formula OneTM teams mainly concentrated on performance, and reliability was only a secondary consideration. It’s no wonder that it wasn’t a very successful strategy. Those days are long past in our sport, and all teams have realized that it makes no sense to have a fast car if it can’t finish the races,” he says.

“All teams have realized that it makes no sense to have a fast car if it can’t finish the races.”

James Allison, Technical Director of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

So reliability has been a key focus at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport for many years. The issue has become even more important this season as the teams are now only allowed to use three power units per year instead of the previous four. James Allison says, “We have thoroughly documented design standards, demanding bench tests, clear approval procedures and regular quality audits to ensure that our internal and external suppliers meet our standards.”

Rigorous testing

ebm-papst also adheres to the highest standards in development and production, giving top priority to the development and use of high-quality materials that increase reliability and also offer additional benefits for customers. The fans produced using HyBlade® technology are an example. Like every ebm-papst product, this combination of an aluminum core and a glass-fiber reinforced plastic covering is subjected to rigorous tests according to high quality standards.

HyBlade® fans consist of a combination of an aluminum core and a glass-fiber reinforced plastic covering and are subjected to rigorous tests according to high quality standards. (Photo | ebm-papst)

The design benefits and performance of the hybrid technology had to prove themselves in extreme stress tests at research and development facilities in Arizona, Singapore and Siberia. Since these locations have extreme climatic conditions throughout the year, they provide the ideal environment for endurance testing. In addition to long-term endurance tests and high speeds up to well over triple their maximum operating points, the hybrid blades are also exposed to water, salt spray and chemicals. And even severe vibration and shocks cannot shake the material structure.

ebm-papst ensures reliability in its customers’ applications in a variety of ways. For example, in contrast to belt-driven fans, efficient EC fans are maintenance-free and produce no annoying debris from wear. That increases reliability and reduces operating costs. When designing air conditioning systems, operators build in redundancies to ensure that enough air can still be moved even if individual fans fail. So-called FanGrids are a prime example of this approach. In a FanGrid, multiple small fans operate alongside one another in place of a single large fan to provide improved air flow, lower energy consumption and greater reliability thanks to built-in redundancy.

“We have a culture of constantly looking for even the smallest chance to make improvements.”

James Allison, Technical Director of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

James Allison explains how important processes within the team are in addition to the technical parameters: “We have a culture of constantly looking for even the smallest chance to make improvements. Failures, near-accidents and even minor worries are picked up on and this feedback is used as a springboard to a better product.” And at ebm-papst, interdisciplinary teams monitor this from the product development stage to uncover potential challenges at an early stage and take appropriate countermeasures.

Cool in the pit

So as soon as a vehicle comes into the garage, the mechanics position add-on cooling units with ebm-papst high-performance axial fans at its air intakes to keep it alive until its next turn on the track. (Photo | Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport)

The two partners’ shared pursuit of reliability is visible in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport race garage. James Allison says, “Our use of ebm-papst products at the race track is an expression of our quest for continuous improvement. A car is a bit like a shark; it has to move to stay alive. The rules don’t allow cooling fans on board, so a vehicle has to depend on its forward movement to supply air for cooling. A stationary car in the garage overheats in seconds if we don’t provide an alternate source of cool air. So as soon as a vehicle comes into the garage, the mechanics position add-on cooling units with ebm-papst high-performance axial fans at its air intakes to keep it alive until its next turn on the track.”

Required fields: Comment, Name & Mail (Mail will not be published). Please also take note of our Privacy protection.