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By PJ Graham, Technical Writer
Updating a product at Pitsco Education
is often a multi-department effort, as
demonstrated by the recent redesign of
the GII Race System (now G3) and FasTrak
Elevated Racetrack. The result of these
efforts is a savings of $1,000 when buying
both pieces of equipment, which are used
for CO2 dragster racing.
Starting the process was the Research
& Reporting Department, which conducted a
survey of customers using the FasTrak and
GII. After determining how they were used,
the Research & Development (R&D) team
started its work.
“We just broke it down, piece by piece,
and . . . . we tackled it by asking, ‘What
can we do to make the products more cost
effective for schools?’” said R&D Manager
Material usage was key to gaining
efficiencies on the price of the track and
“We took a look at the material we were
using and made it a little more manufacturing
friendly; we eliminated some of the materials
in the system that had really gone up in price
over the years,” Uttley explained. “Plastic is
really expensive now because plastic is made
out of oil. When you think of our track – 80
feet end to end – that’s a lot of plastic.
“So the greatest impact we had on the
track was changing the surface from a
polyethylene to a hard laminate surface.”
The Manufacturing Department found
the laminate material and suggested using
it. Then, the R&D team made it work on
the track’s bed.
However, the track legs still needed
to be made from the durable plastic as
they support the track. But Manufacturing
still found a way to reduce costs of the
sturdy HDPE plastic used in the legs and
race system housings. Denise Calloway,
purchasing/inventory control supervisor,
researched vendors and
found one that offered
the same material for
a better price. The new
vendor sold sheets
that came in a slightly
different size: 5' x 8'
compared to 4' x 8'.
Manager Kyle Bailey redesigned the leg shape
so all 12 legs for the track could be cut from
one sheet of HDPE.
Uttley said an area where R&D was
able to reduce production cost was the
electronics. “We completely redesigned
all of the electronics inside to be much
more efficient,” he said. “We were able to
modernize it a bit to use less parts.”
One example of this is processors. The
old system used three different processors;
the new G3 Race System needs just
one. Another way modern electronics
helped was to enable them to use fewer
components, so the PC electronic boards
could be smaller, thus enabling the board
house to make more boards out of the
same sheet of PCB materials.
But there is more to this redesign than
reducing the price tag.
No compromise on quality
“The main goal
of this project was
to lower the cost
to the customer
and durability and
ease of use and setup,” Uttley said. “Along
with that was the opportunity to make some
“With the track, we designed a much
better joining system for track sections to
improve the fit of the track so you get a much
more level joint. In my opinion, it’s a lot more
intuitive in the way it goes together and how
to make it level.”
Regarding the joining system, which
uses overlapping joints instead of butt joints,
Mechanical Designer Gary Jones said, “The
track is a solid piece once it’s put together.
It’s solid sections; it can’t be pulled apart.
The other thing is with butt joints, you can
always have a slight difference in height when
you butt them together. By overlapping, you
take that away.”
Added Product Engineer Doug Borchardt,
“We also recently found a box vendor and
redesigned the shipping box a bit so we’re
going to save a little money there too.”
In seemingly every way, this resourceful
and creative team achieved its goal of creating
an efficient and effective new elevated track
and electronic race system.