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F1 tech in the outside world - how Williams' pit perfection is improving neonatal care

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F1 tech in the outside world - how Williams' pit perfection is improving neonatal care
May 10, 2016, 6:17 PM

We always love a story about how F1 technology is being used in other areas of society and there is a new one from Williams this week.

We always love a story about how F1 technology is being used in other areas of society and there is a new one from Williams this week.

So far in the 2016 season, Williams has been the undisputed best Formula 1 team when it comes to pitstops and the team has been offering its knowledge of delicate, high-pressure skills to the neonatal unit at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW).

Of the four races completed in 2016, Williams’ 2.10s turnaround of Felipe Massa in China is the fastest seen so far, and the team has collected F1’s Fastest Lap Award from each event.

Williams pitstop

Staff at the UHW, which is based in Cardiff, felt that the attention to detail used by F1 teams when it comes to pitstops, which have been much faster since mid-race re-fuelling was banned at the end of 2010, could benefit their practices when it came to resuscitating newborn babies.

Some of the Williams squad visited the hospital last year and members of UHW’s neonatal team went to the Williams factory in Grove last week to observe the team’s pitstop practice first hand.

UHW’s neonatal team has already begun to shift its approach to its resuscitation processes and has audited and streamlined its equipment trolley to make locating it quicker. The hospital has also mapped out the floor space in its delivery theatres to clearly show the area its team will work, much like Williams’ pit crew does at each F1 race.

Williams pitstop

The hospital’s neonatal team is also starting to develop a plan to use an F1-style “radio-check” before a resuscitation takes place, use more hand signals than verbal communications, and implement video analysis and debrief sessions following a resuscitation.

Dr Rachel Hayward, specialist registrar in Neonates at the University Hospital of Wales said of the project: “Resuscitation of a compromised neonate at delivery is time critical, requiring the provision of efficient and effective resuscitation to ensure an optimal outcome.

“Delays in providing effective resuscitative care can have marked consequences on survival or the development of long term complications. There is a growing amount of evidence to support a systematic approach to resuscitative care, which is time-critical and dependent upon optimal team dynamics and clear communication.

“Analogous with the requirements of an effective pitstop we have worked with the Williams team to implement Formula 1 techniques and processes to augment neonatal resuscitative care”.

XPB.cc Claire Williams

Claire Williams, Williams’ deputy team principal, added: “When we were approached by the neonatal team at the University Hospital of Wales last year to offer some advice we were delighted to assist.

“Their work is vitally important and the pressure they work under is difficult to comprehend; it’s a matter of life and death every day of the week. If some of the advice we have passed on helps to save a young life then this would have been an extremely worthy endeavour.

“We are increasingly finding that Formula 1 know-how and technology can have benefit to other industries and this is a great example.”

Examples of F1 applied technology outside motorsport

All F1 cars carry an Electronic Control Unit, it is a standard unit, designed and built by McLaren Electronic Systems. However MES also repurpose it for other uses. For example, it is used in Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

By connecting the ECU to an ill child, doctors can measure heart rate, oxygen levels and blood pressure. It can take a heart cardiogram 125 times a minute. This allows doctors to pick up signs of deterioration much earlier and it detects subtle shifts, which a more basic system would not register.

Williams fridge

Open fridges account 60 per cent of the energy used by a typical large supermarket and they work by blowing cold air across the produce.

The aerodynamics team at Williams devised an aerofoil that, when fitted to the front of fridges, channels the air back inside, reducing electricity bills by up to 20 per cent.

F1 cars are made from carbon fibre, which is very light and stronger than steel. The current world market for the material is 44,000 tonnes a year and growing.

Hypetex Halo chair

Out of F1’s innovative work in this field comes a new brand new product called Hypetex; coloured carbon fibre. Lightness and strength are the two main properties of carbon composite, but it has always been black and if colour was needed it had to be painted.

Hypetex is the work of former F1 engineers finding a way to colour the material during the manufacturing process to create something visually stunning.

The award winning Halo chair, designed by Michael Sodeau, is an early example of what it sure to become a new direction in high-end furniture design.

What do you make of Williams’ work with UHW and the use of F1’s applied technology in different industries? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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Series Formula 1
Teams Williams
Tags innovation