PRODRIVE – In celebration of 25 years

Prodrive’s quarter of a century in business has encapsulated huge changes in the way computers are used in motorsport.

But one thing has remained constant -its strong bond with tech wizard DTE

Dr Charles Clarke writes for Racecar Engineering Magazine on the 25 year relationship between Prodrive and DTE …..

RaceCar Engineering ProdriveThe Prodrive and Desktop Engineering (DTE) relationship has spanned almost the whole lifetime of both companies, and also a turbulent development period in CAD, CAM and CAE disciplines, in terms of both hardware and software.

Twenty-five years ago we were emerging from the UNIX era when the cost of hardware and hardware support reduced by at least a factor of four. Many lament the passing of the UNIX age, as ‘mean time between failure’ also went down by a factor of 10 (at least) and the Windows BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) crept into common technical parlance.

There has then been much change and evolution in the computing world, with  significant shifts in technology and innovation every five years or so. DTE, based in the heart of the British motorsport business community, has ridden these changes, retooling and training its staff to accommodate evolving trends.

“I founded the business in 1986, with the aim of providing engineering software on personal computers” says DTE managing director, Geoffrey Haines. “The IBM PC was becoming available at the time and software was being written in the US for this platform. We started out securing distribution rights to these applications here in the UK and we began with just two of us selling and supporting them. We had started at the early adopter phase of this new market, and quickly grew to be a dozen or so engineers.”

DTE was first approached by Prodrive in 1988, which then became a customer of its 3D surface modelling application, called Personal Designer which proved to be ahead of the market at that time.

“We’ve always had a soft spot for Prodrive because they were one of our early customers” says Haines.


Rapid evolution

The early days of the PC CAD market were very dynamic. With the rapid developments in software technology, new products arrived and existing ones faced challenges almost on a monthly basis. Major upgrades every 6 months were not unusual. DTE had to keep abreast of these changes ensuring it always had best, most suitable solutions for its customers.  In software the partnership has witnessed CFD come of age as a meaningful design application. CAD has gone from 2D to 3D, through parametric solid modelling, history based modelling, dynamic modelling, direct modelling and now, The Cloud.  ………..


Considered change

In motorsport, the last thing you need is for everything to keep changing constantly. As CAD/CAM and CAE are only tools, motorsport engineers need the fastest and most effective of each, but they don’t want them continuously upgraded or changed unless that upgrade shaves time off the process or improves accuracy. This is where DTE comes in. One of its most important roles is to supply the best solution in an appropriate manner for the team to do what it does most effectively. It’s DTE’s job to evaluate new trends and manage their introduction where and when appropriate.

Over the years we have had to make key decisions on which software developer to partner with” says Haines. “Always considering our existing customers and the relevance of the new software changes to their businesses.  It is significant that all this time Prodrive has listened and moved in the direction we headed. Their loyalty and belief in our choices is an endorsement to their commitment to their suppliers – treating them as partners rather than just mere suppliers. During this period, we have moved through three major changes in technology -all of which Prodrive endorsed and implemented.” Haines says.

Prodrive, during the same period, has gone from a one-make rally car builder to a global general automotive consultancy and sportscar builder with Formula 1 interests.

“We always look to our software suppliers as key to our advancement” Enrique Goddard, CAD and PLM specialist, Prodrive says. “In this period of our company’s growth we have all faced many changes and challenges, and DTE’s leadership and support has always been second to none and hence our ‘long relationship‘ is a testament to these values.”


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Read the full PDF article – RCE Prodrive 25th Celebration with DTE