In the rapidly evolving world of motorsport, Ducati is always at the forefront and leverages Lenovo’s advanced technologies to be successful and lead innovation in MotoGP.
“Technology is increasingly a differentiating factor in the racing world, and thanks to our partnership with Lenovo, we have been able to change the very way bikes are designed. Lenovo represents our ideal travel companion, sharing our commitment for performance, achieving results and innovation, focusing on the incredible combination of human ingenuity and advanced technologies.”
– Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager
Founded in 1926 in Bologna, Italy, Ducati started as a company specialized in the research and production of radio communication technologies. This evolved in 1946 with the beginning of motorbike production, and Ducati has always placed innovation at the core of its growth strategy.
With over 1,300 employees worldwide, including its headquarters in Borgo Panigale, Ducati brings Italian style to over 90 countries, providing two-wheel lovers with sports bikes characterized by powerful engines, unique design, and advanced technologies.
In line with its commitment to constantly improve its products, Ducati has competed in the Superbike World Championship since 1988, the year of its first edition, and since 2003 it has participated in the MotoGP Championship with the Desmosedici GP, its racing bike characterized by the only sixteen valve engine in the world championship with desmodromic distribution.
However, motorsport evolves rapidly, and in 2018 Ducati understood the importance of a quantum leap.
“We realized that it was no longer enough to build the most powerful engine or to select the most talented riders: technology was now a decisive asset for the success of a team. For this reason, we were looking for an industry-leading technology partner that was able to maximize the best technologies available in the market and to meet all our needs, both on and off the track,” remembered Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager.
More than a technology partnership
Starting from 2018 season, Ducati decided to rely on Lenovo as its main technology partner, leveraging the company’s PCs, tablets, and server solutions both on the track and in its headquarters. They also collaborated with Lenovo’s experts in the R&D field, aiming to accelerate the team’s progress and to achieve better performance.
“Our relationship with Lenovo soon proved to be a strategic partnership, allowing us to reach new levels of innovation, and paving the way for a new way of conceiving and designing motorbikes. Thanks to the new possibilities enabled by Lenovo technologies, we were able to rapidly improve the power, speed (in the order of tenths of a second per lap), and safety of our bikes and to conquer the MotoGP Constructors’ World Title in 2020,” commented Gabriele Conti, Ducati Corse Electronics Systems Director.
Confirming the joint commitment to innovation in the motorsport industry, at the beginning of the 2021 racing season, Ducati and Lenovo announced a new partnership, which established the new “Ducati Lenovo Team”, making Lenovo the Title Partner of Ducati MotoGP Team. The two brands also strengthened their technological partnership, focusing on data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and smart software solutions.
Computing power at hand
One of the main projects that lead Ducati’s digital transformation was the adoption of the HPC (High-Performance Computing) cluster based on Lenovo’s ThinkSystem SD530, SR630, and SR650 servers, which allowed Ducati to modernize and expand the company’s hardware equipment, significantly increasing the computing power available to the engineers and improving the reliability of the simulation system.
“Our infrastructure was very old and did not adequately support us in more complex analyses, such as those relating to aerodynamics and fluid dynamics,” highlighted Conti. “Thanks to Lenovo’s support, we were able to increase the number of simulations and centralize these types of activities, thus freeing up our technicians’ workstations, which could be dedicated to other operations. The upgrade made in 2021 allowed us to obtain data and information in a third of the calculation time compared to before adoption, almost doubling the number of simulations that we can run simultaneously.”
Then, it was easier for Ducati engineers to foresee how certain features – such as the design of the fairing and wings, or the rider’s riding position – can affect performance under specific weather conditions. Moreover, Lenovo’s infrastructure grants high standards of data protection and has allowed Ducati to minimize the risk of dangerous and expensive unexpected downtimes.
“The technologies offered by Lenovo are easy and reliable, and they have significantly changed our work processes. The new technological support has opened up new horizons and ways of working. An example is the Remote Garage, which allows the team to work together in any moment and in real time, even from miles away. Moreover, the increased computing power has allowed us to obtain valuable information faster, allowing us to make strategic decisions in less time. In the motorsports world, there is never enough horsepower, and, nowadays, the same increasingly applies to computing power, too”, added Dall’Igna.
In order to fully enjoy the possibilities offered by Lenovo’s HPC infrastructure, Ducati also needed the right hardware solutions, suitable for different types of users and various areas of use. Then, the company chose to take advantage of Lenovo’s tablets, PCs, and workstations to achieve outstanding levels of connectivity, power and speed. Technicians, for example, use the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 mobile workstation to analyze the data collected via the various bikes’ sensors: from temperatures to the lean angles, to all engine configurations, as well as vehicles’ dynamics, aerodynamics and electronic controls. Thanks to ThinkPad P1’s power and its thin, light, and durable design, it is possible to analyze these data within minutes directly on the track, to check for any anomalies and be ready to intervene with the necessary changes when the rider arrives at the garage. Lenovo workstations are also used by analysts who leverage the algorithms present on the servers on the track and in the company – where data is stored in real time – to examine the statistics of each lap, comparing them to optimize the bikes’ setup and to provide riders with useful information to improve their sporting performance.
Top management, on the other hand, rely on the innovative ThinkPad X1 Fold foldable PCs to enjoy maximum productivity and mobility, whereas designers can count on the power of the ThinkPad P Seriesfor design and development using CAD software. Finally, a wide range of popular ThinkBook and Yoga laptops are used by the Ducati team to support individual productivity and smart collaboration.
“ThinkPad X1 Fold has proven to be a unique device, perfect for both a manager and a technician: it combines the high portability and productivity of a large tablet, also thanks to the multifunction pen, perfect for taking notes during shifts, with the power of a traditional PC. It is possible to use it both in full desktop mode – with the display fully open on the integrated stand and combined with a keyboard – and by folding the display at 90° and using the physical keyboard supplied. In this way, it turns into an extremely compact laptop, ideal for fast use, such as at the airport. Finally, once the job is done, ThinkPad X1 Fold can be folded and transported as easily as a large wallet,” said Conti.
Productivity and connectivity anywhere, anytime
Ducati also felt the need to be able to access all the tools at any time and to facilitate remote communication and collaboration.
“The garage is often a hostile environment: in Malaysia the humidity can reach 90%, whereas in Qatar we have to endure the sand and the dry heat. We therefore needed a solution that was not only easily portable but also resistant and capable of ensuring continuity,” commented Conti.
At the suggestion of Lenovo, the company therefore chose the ThinkSystem SE350 edge server: small, versatile, easily portable, and able to withstand even in extreme environments. Lenovo’s cutting-edge server allows engineers to process in real time, even remotely, the huge amount of data coming from bikes and to produce useful insights to take fast, well-informed decisions. Thanks to Lenovo technology, in fact, about 15GB of data is analyzed for each bike during each race, obtaining detailed information on the performance of each rider, based on his riding style and the setup of his bike.
“Ease of transportation was an essential feature for us and ThinkSystem SE350 proved to be the ideal solution for our needs. In terms of size, it is half of a traditional server, but it offers the same computing power and the same disk space, allowing us to bring compute capabilities and AI features wherever we need them” explained Conti with pride. “It is the backbone on which the development of our Remote Garage project is based, also thanks to its advanced security features.” As a matter of fact, in the event of tampering, the device automatically activates data encryption, allowing users to recover the information only using a dedicated Lenovo key. “Data are a valuable asset, which can lead to victory or defeat. It is therefore crucial to protect our intellectual property at any time,” remarked Dall’Igna.
Furthermore, in a year when 80% of the people in the company and 35% of on-track staff had to work remotely to comply with the security regulations imposed by the pandemic, the new virtual desktops infrastructure, built in partnership with Lenovo, played a fundamental role. From the headquarters to the R&D team, up to the garage, 250 2D and 3D virtual desktops have already been activated, simplifying access and improving the productivity of workers, wherever they are and whatever device they use.
“It was a big leap from various points of view: the ability to unify and simplify workstations’ management has allowed us to speed up operations and optimize resources, especially in daily maintenance, bringing important benefits in terms of performance, scalability and above all security. The more we are able to virtualize and centralize these types of activities, the greater the security of data and people’s daily work,” confirmed Conti.
The possibility of working on the move also allowed Ducati designers to interact remotely with the development team and the test rider during tests, and to contextually make changes to the design of the bike or of a single component on the base of the feedback received, cutting down production times.
Towards an augmented future
The positive results achieved with the projects completed in 2021 lead Ducati to dream big and, for the future, the company plans to continue investing in digital innovation, leveraging its strategic partnership with Lenovo and its AI, machine learning and augmented reality solutions.
“Thanks to Lenovo ThinkReality A3 AR headsets and software solutions, we aim to improve our after-sales support services and the Test Room activities, allowing our engineers to remotely guide operators during maintenance, testing and assembly of engine components. Moreover, the ability to visually reproduce the bike, or one of its components, in full size in a real context allows you to have a unique overview of the designers’ work, which wouldn’t be possible on a traditional screen. These technologies open up endless possibilities and we plan to leverage them to also support R&D activities soon,” predicted Conti.
But Ducati’s efforts don’t stop here. The company also plans to improve smart collaboration, fostering real time communication and information sharing. Ducati is indeed testing new solutions to support video conferences and will continue to develop the Remote Garage project, which allows engineers to receive data in real time and interact with the garage and the bikes even from home.
“In a situation that is still so uncertain, connecting and bringing people together remains strategic for teamwork and for continuing to innovate our bikes. Projects such as the Remote Garage and smart collaboration allow everyone to make their own contribution to achieving results, feeling part of the Team even if they live in different time zones,” concluded Dall’Igna. “Over the years, Ducati has always kept the lead on innovation, and thanks to Lenovo’s advice and innovative technologies we are more than ever able to achieve unprecedented performance and to set new standards both on the track and in street bikes production. We are proud of the path taken and we are sure that the future will confirm the value of our ambitious projects.”
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