Information Technology

May 17, 2012

These days it’s amazing what vehicles can tell you, if only you can decode their language.

The latest generation of data acquisition products does just that, monitoring vital signs that offer clues to unlocking hidden horsepower and performance.

The systems allow racers and enthusiasts to gather data to understand what’s going on with their vehicles-including engine internals, chassis setups and power-adders. Some devices can even be used to identify and isolate potential parts failures before they occur.

The information technology available these days can seem intimidating and overwhelming. To ease those concerns, data acquisition system manufacturers offer some straight talk on how shops can embrace and utilize these high-tech tools to help increase their customers’ driving experience.

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AEM Performance Electronics
Hawthorne, Calif.
Lawson Mollica
Director of Marketing & PR

Our hottest new performance data acquisition product is…

…the Dyno-Shaft on-vehicle dynamometer, which measures driveline torque and rpm while you drive and transmits that data to our AQ-1 Data Logger. It’s a real measurement dyno that measures power while you drive in all conditions, making it ideal for track-tuning your vehicle, especially when you pair your horsepower and torque data with the additional logs from the AQ-1 Data Logger.

The AQ-1 has eight inputs (four analog and four frequency-based that can be switched to analog). Plus, it’s AEMnet-enabled, which is our CAN network, so communication with our Dyno-Shaft, EMS systems, controllers and some third-party CAN-enabled devices are a simple one-plug connection.

Its best features include…

…a forged chromoly slip yoke that is strain-gauged and calibrated for torque measurement (Pro Series), and a controller unit that is completely maintenance-free.

The Dyno-Shaft Controller goes around a vehicle’s transmission tail shaft housing, reads rpm via an optical sensor and transmits the data to the AQ-1 Data Logger at 18 Hz. The AQ-1 samples at up to 1,000 samples/second per channel and has 32G of memory with an optional SD card (2GB standard), so there is plenty of logging capability for all types of racing environments.

The best part of all is the price-about $370 for the AQ-1 Data Logger and about $1,500 for a dyno that is always on your car.

The main consumer customer base for data acquisition products is…

…drag racing, high-speed oval and road course racers are naturals for the Dyno-Shaft as you can see your power production after each pass, make changes and know if they worked. The data is tailor-made for clutch and torque converter development, especially since you can measure converter slip on A/Ts using the Dyno-Shaft.

You can also see the impact of power consumption when changes are made. Using the track mapping capability of the AQ-1, road racers with a Dyno-Shaft can see their power at every point of a race course and make changes for power, improved aerodynamics and even suspension changes to better-use the available power you have for exiting turns and in transitions.

We will have a Dyno-Shaft gauge out soon that will allow you to view torque and power in real time. It will also have basic logging capability. This will be popular with hot rodders and muscle car enthusiasts who do some weekend racing.

The biggest challenge shops face when selling data acquisition products is…

…they can be challenging to install, and if you have to pay for upgrades to unlock their full potential they can get costly for the customer. That’s why our AQ-1 Data Logger and Dyno-Shaft are fully enabled out of the box and connect via the AEMnet CAN network, and the wires on the AQ-1 are color-coded and identified to simplify the install.

An unexpected benefit of offering these products is…

…for the dyno shop, think of the Dyno-Shaft as having an extension of your shop on every car you tune. Envision a customer calling you from a track at a different elevation or in a different climate, and sending you an email with log files from the AQ-1 with torque and power from the Dyno-Shaft along with logged engine parameters. You can then recommend chassis, clutch, converter or tire changes or make modifications to their tuning map and email it back to them for upload. They go faster, and you bill accordingly.

Shops can immediately begin making more money selling data acquisition products by…

…if you have drag race and road race customers and data logging is new to them, showing them the benefits you can gain by recording vehicle info in the form of faster lap times and lower ETs is a natural selling point. This data is also critical for saving an engine.

Once you establish patterns in the data, deviations from these patterns may indicate when parts are beginning to fail or degrade overall performance, which will keep performance consistent and can prevent a catastrophic failure.

Understanding the software and being able to help them quickly set-up relevant templates, and using data loggers that are user-friendly will all increase sales. Combined with affordability and the ability to upsell unique logging parameters like power and torque from the Dyno-Shaft can make shops stand out as specialists, while also creating additional revenue streams through remote tuning opportunities.

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DiabloSport Inc.
Delray Beach, Fla.
Max Wyman
Marketing Director

Our hottest new performance data acquisition product is…

…the DiabloSport inTune.

Its best features include…

…universal OBD-II vehicle diagnostics. Regardless of what vehicle is currently “programmed” the inTune will still function as a code reader/clearer on any OBD-II-equipped vehicle. The inTune also features full data logging, vehicle performance and economy tuning, one part number for all applications, free automatic online updates, full-color touchscreen and is simple to use.

DiabloSport also offers free software (available as a free download on our website) to play back the log files and help understand your vehicle’s vital information.

The main consumer customer base for data acquisition products is…

…any vehicle owner who is interested in improving their overall performance and/or economy would benefit from a DiabloSport inTune.

The biggest challenge shops face when selling data acquisition products is…

…educating the consumer about the products so they can utilize all of the features/benefits they offer.

An unexpected benefit of offering these products is…

…fuel economy and overall improvement in your vehicle’s performance. By keeping an eye on your vehicle’s vitals and utilizing the inTune to fine-tune your car/truck, the DiabloSport inTune can assist you for maximum performance and economy.

Shops can immediately begin making more money selling data acquisition products by…

…informing customers about all of the features and benefits offered by these products.

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Racepak Data Systems
Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
Tim Anderson
General Manager

Our hottest new performance data acquisition product is…

…the Racepak SmartWire, a fully programmable, solid state electronic power distribution module.

Its best features include…

…the SmartWire eliminates the needs for fuses, circuit breakers and relays, while providing the ability to input 12 hardwired switches and 30 outputs. Eight output channels are 20-amp maximum, while 22 output channels are 10-amp maximum. Outputs can be grouped for higher amperage needs.

The SmartWire can but utilized in three modes: first, as a standalone unit; second, in conjunction with Racepak V-Net sensors (for sensor trigger outputs); and third when connected with a Racepak V-Net series data recorder, which then allows the SmartWire to not only utilize the sensor inputs of the data logger for outputs, but also provides the ability to record the voltage, amperage and state of each input and output channel.

This data is recording alongside the data recorder sensor channels, allowing graphical review and analysis when downloaded.

The main consumer customer base for data acquisition products is…

…anyone desiring to improve vehicle or driver/rider performance in a motorsports or high-performance application.

The biggest challenge shops face when selling data acquisition products is…

…thorough knowledge of the product in order to accomplish the sale, then the ability to provide technical support after the sale.

An unexpected benefit of offering these products is…

…the ability to move the customer to additional data product sales or components related to data system performance, such as the proper ignition plug wires to reduce noise interference, etc.

Shops can immediately begin making more money selling data acquisition products by…

…having a thorough knowledge of the product line and understanding the needs of the customer in regards to the company product line.

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Innovate Motorsports Inc.
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Adam Davis
Technical Sales

Our hottest new performance data acquisition product is…

…the LM-2.

Its best features include…

…single- or dual-channel air/fuel ratio monitoring, four user-definable 0-5v linear inputs, engine rpm input and OBD-II reading capability. It is capable of logging 700-plus hours of data.

The main consumer customer base for data acquisition products is…

…any user that wishes to get the maximum performance and reliability from their engine setup will benefit from an LM-2 or any of our other data collection products. The ability to collect consistent, accurate data, and then using that data to affect positive change is what separates the fast, reliable setups from the slow.

The biggest challenge shops face when selling data acquisition products is…

…the knowledge of why these products are important and why the consumer needs them would be the biggest challenge. It is also critical that (shop owners) understand that one customer’s needs in a data logging system may not be the same as another.

Data collection systems are typically highly customizable, allowing the customer to get exactly what they need.

An unexpected benefit of offering these products is…

…with these tools, the user can determine where the weaknesses lie in their setup, and can then return to the shop to obtain whatever it is they need to address these issues. Or they may simply decide that they have found an area where they could make some sort of upgrade to make even more power.

Shops can immediately begin making more money selling data acquisition products by…

…offering these products with an understanding of the customers’ needs. Not only is there the sale to be had on the data logging system itself, but support products, sensor, installation, etc.

Once the customer determines what their needs are based on the data collected, they can then become a repeat customer for mechanical upgrades, etc.

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FuelTech EMS
Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil
Anderson Dick
Director

Our hottest new performance data acquisition product is…

…the PRO24 Datalogger.

Its best features include…

…USB connection, 16 analog channels, internal 3-axis accelerometer and four frequency channels in a very compact product.

The main consumer customer base for data acquisition products is…

…anyone that wants to know accurate data from their vehicle, from pilots to mechanics or even just a racer.

The biggest challenge shops face when selling data acquisition products is…

…to show the customer the benefits of getting accurate data. In order to do that, the product must be complete and user-friendly, making it an efficient tool.

An unexpected benefit of offering these products is…

…understanding how the engine and chassis are working and all the recorded parameters, thereby helping to lower track times.

Shops can immediately begin making more money selling data acquisition products by…

…helping the tuner to better-understand the info that the car can give him. Also there are plenty of sensors that can be used.

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Race Technology USA
Richmond, Va., and Nottingham, U.K.
Al Seim
Manager

Our hottest new performance data acquisition product is…

…VIDEO4+GPS, a combined GPS-based data logger and four-channel video system.

Its best features include…

…capturing performance data and overlaid video on a single data card, already synched and ready for analysis and playback.

The main consumer customer base for data acquisition products is…

…road racing has been our biggest market. Drag race, circle track and boats are all on the rise.

The biggest challenge shops face when selling data acquisition products is…

…the biggest issue nationally has been the reluctance of circle track ruling bodies to allow in-car data systems on race day. This may have made sense for Sportsman classes when data systems cost more than engines, but with capable data systems with a 1-year warranty selling for well under $1,000 retail today, I’m not sure it still makes sense. But it is slowly changing…

An unexpected benefit of offering these products is…

…most new users of data systems are going to require some support. This can be a liability or an asset. It can be an asset if the support is good and cements a relationship.

Shops can immediately begin making more money selling data acquisition products by…

…selling them as a system at a boutique rather than a discount price, treating it as a value-added sale rather than a commodity, and using the extra margin to provide good support and cement a relationship.

The data systems can offer an opportunity to partner with or offer installation, race engineering or coaching services.