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Several RC magazines around the world have asked us to write a monthly column. With the kind permission we will re-publish the column at our web site too so all of the XRAY fans can read the latest news and behind the scenes information. Enjoy.

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For most everyone, the end of the year is related to holidays, relaxation, and the Xmas season. For us as a manufacturer the end of the year and the first months of a new year are always the busiest times of the year. At the end of the year we push to get the last new products so they are on time for Xmas and the first months of a new year, then again finish and push everything to be on time for the Nurnberg show and beginning of the season. So there is not so much relaxation and spare time for anyone in the company. This year though, the end of the year was more hectic than usual as we had many projects in the final stage:

• Final stage of implementation of new ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system
• Finishing the new XB9
• Finishing the new RX8 2012
• Finishing the new NT1 2012

New ERP system:
After six years of development, testing, and implementation, we have finally finished the final stage of implementation of the all-new ERP system which is now the “brain“ of all in-house internal processes. With the huge product portfolio that we have built up within the last decade, we were struggling to handle the logistics and all the processes effectively using our old system, and as such we needed to upgrade to something much more suited to the scale and diversity of our company. After long examination and analysis we decided upon a robust system that has been used by full-size car manufacturers and since we actually do exactly the same kinds of products – though in smaller scale – the system fit our requirements perfectly. Even though it may seem that to implement such a system is similar to installing regular software, in fact the opposite is the truth; all our processes had to be analyzed in detail and the system had to be adapted to our very specific requirements and needs. For the past 5 years, our internal team has worked with the software supplier on the implementation and during the last year we were in the testing phase when everything was tested in real-life production and still on a daily basis several problems and bugs were found and fixed.

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The final transfer was scheduled at the end of the year when the complete inventory had to be made and transfer all the balances to the new software. At the same we had to completely re-arrange the layout of the warehouse, assembly, and packaging line to adapt to the new processes so it was a monumental task. We stopped all regular activity during the middle of the December and almost everyone was working on the full inventory check and the new re-arrangements. The entire transfer took nearly 1 month as we started to work again in middle of January. You can imagine how difficult but also how expensive such a temporary shutdown is, and of course this resulted into a temporary shortage in the market. For this I would like to apologize to any customers who during this time experienced some difficulties in getting spare parts. After we restarted production, we worked for several weeks, 7 days a week, from early morning ‘til late night to catch up on lost time and to refill the stock to get the delivery fill in rates back to normal.

I am very happy that finally this huge project has been successfully finished, and I am looking forward to the future. The new system should help us to make more efficient and effective decisions in the purchase-production-sales chain, with fewer mistakes and less workers involved. This is the only chance we have to remain a European manufacturer that is competitive to cheap Asian products… more automation, fewer people, higher flexibility, higher productivity and higher outputs with the same or even lower resources at input. I expect that in the next few weeks we will be able to get back to our standard levels with next-day shipping with minimum of 95% fill-in rates. There is no other RC car manufacturer that comes even close to such ultra-high delivery standards and we are very serious when it comes to providing the highest level of service and spare parts delivery.

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New technology:
Speaking about productivity, I would like to mention that just last week we received and successfully installed a brand-new Swiss fully-automatic CNC grinding machine, which is one of the most precise grinding machines in the world; a fully automatic production process which guarantees precision of the entire production within 0.001mm! This new machine was extremely expensive but we decided to invest in this technology to ensure the highest quality for all pieces in the production batch and produce the parts in a more automated process. There are several other new machines we have in mind to purchase, which will again move productivity, quality, and efficiency to another level.


Besides the daily operation work and the disruption with transferring to the new ERP system, we also had to fully concentrate on the new projects to be released in the early 2012 – the new 1/8 off-road XB9 and the 2012 spec versions of the 1/8 on-road RX8 and 1/10 nitro NT1.

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New XB9:
The production of the XB9 was full running but we still had several parts in “waiting mode” as they were directly related to the composite parts of which some still needed final mould adjustments. So we could not start production of some steel or alu parts as we still needed to finish the last details on several moulds, then inject the parts, wait for at least 2 weeks until the parts stabilized, measure them and then adjust the final dimensions and run the production. There are hardly any other companies that pay such attention to these ultra small details, and at the end they cannot as we are the only company that does its production in-house and has total control over the production.

In the end all these small details matter and this makes the difference about how easy it is to build the car, as well as how precisely the parts fit. As soon as we confirmed all the remaining parts, we started the last parts production and in January, within a few weeks all the parts were finished and packaging was running. I love this stage when I walk through the packaging line and see how all the finished parts are being put into the final bags. I still take the opportunity to touch all the parts, check again if everything on the parts is exactly as it should be, if there are no visual differences on what I expect the product should look like, and I personally give the parts a sort of “good bye.“

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However, as usual with this kind of very complex and completely new projects, there was again a last-minute item that created some troubles and almost resulted in a delay. The final production design of the body has received extremely positive feedback from all team drivers, but the longer the tests were performed the more feedback I got about some areas which started to tear after some time, especially around the engine. Luckily we did not yet run the production, as the body is the last item that is required to be produced only for the final box packaging. As such I did not want to compromise and we still made the last minute final updates and changes to the mould to reinforce the areas on the body which were reported. The mould was finished, bodies produced to my satisfaction, and we could finally finish the box and start shipping the kits to customers.

Another well done project that I am very proud of, and another one which I am convinced will be a big success. Now let’s let the customers judge and evaluate my work as a designer and our work as a factory. Just stop by the XRAY forum and give your input and feedback… I am looking for any kind of report and evaluation.

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New NT1:
The NT1 has for many years been our most successful car. The NT1 keeps winning local, regional, national, and international races, and has gained all the top titles including USA, EC, FEMCA and WC titles. The NT1 is a winner on the tracks but also in the media where it has collected multiple awards for Best Nitro Car in various magazines. There are no more big trophies or achievements we can collect, and I am very satisfied and happy about the success of this car.

During the years we have continued to bring annual updates and improvements, and this year is no different. As in previous years, we had a big dilemma about what to change to make the car better while not making it worse. I can say that the NT1 has been the best-performing nitro touring car on the market and customers have been very satisfied with the car, but recently we have been getting some feedback that customers are already “tired“ of the car and want something new and different. Of course we can change the shape and design of most of the parts, but this is not in my own philosophy. I will not waste time and energy to change the parts only visually to make them look differently if there is no value added either in reliability or performance. In my heart I am a racer, and so any design changes have to make sense to me.

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After extensive discussions we realized that at this moment we cannot come up with something totally different that would also be a step further. Believe me, over the years we have tested many different (many times “crazy”) ideas and parts, but in the end the only ones that really brought improvement were year-after-year incorporated into the newest versions of the NT1. I can easily say that 90-95% of the prototypes and ideas we tested during the years were of little or no improvement, and as such they never got into production or into a newer version of the car. With my philosophy, we do all the hard and “dirty“ work behind the scenes within the team, and the customer gets only the final products which work.

Because of this, the 2012 version of the NT1 does not bring any “big” or “radical” changes and there are “only“ two new parts which are a significant improvement – a new, more flexible radio plate which generates more traction and helps the steering of the car, and the new chassis with cut outs below the engine to reduce the CG.

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New RX8:
The RX8 has enjoyed more news and some significant improvements and upgrades for 2012. During the entire 2011 season we collected all the feedback but also gained a lot of our own new experiences from races around the world. Our main goal for improvement was to change the flex of the chassis and radio plate to make the car more suitable for most of the tracks right out of the box. As you know from my previous columns, working on the flex of a car is the first thing we start with. To find the optimum flex is almost alchemy, and therefore I believe it will be a never-ending process of development; once you change anything on the car, you need to make supporting adjustments and changes to the chassis and radio plate flex to accommodate those changes. With the RX8 chassis and radio plate it was no different. We made so many different versions of the chassis and radio plate that I have lost count, and as we made progress during the year the team drivers started to experiment themselves with their own hand-made modifications. Of course, we collected all the feedback and reports and analyzed everything. I believe that in the end we made solid improvements for the 2012 spec versions of the chassis and radio plate, and they will certainly make the car easier to drive and perform better in most conditions.

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The area which needed the most serious improvement was the clutch. The RX8 original clutch was good but the Achilles heel was the clutch spring. The original clutch spring kept deforming and the tighter the clutch the more the spring deformed. Clutch performance kept changing itself and ultimately resulted in higher wear of the parts and/or the clutch started to slip. We noticed this problem and fixed it during the season with an all-new conical clutch spring. So during the season we changed to the conical clutch spring in the kits, so all the customers who had an original spring got a free replacement of the conical spring. This type of spring keeps the same characteristics without any changes for hundreds of working hours, and despite it being more expensive than the standard spring we made the change immediately. After the first test at the EC warm-up in Luxembourg where the team was happy with the reliability and workings of the clutch, we decided to put the same spring in the NT1 which we tested before the EC in Germany with the same positive result. Since we did not have such problems with the NT1 clutch, we decided to make long-term tests before any change. As such the team has been testing the conical clutch in for NT1 for several months now and it seems the feedback will support the use of the conical spring for public use in short time.

After we fixed the only real serious issue on the RX8 – the clutch spring – we could concentrate on improvements of the suspension geometry. To make the geometry more adaptive for different track conditions, we updated the design of the suspension arms and steering blocks to allow the mounting of special graphite extensions which add a variety of set-up changes to adapt to specific and non-standard track conditions.

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2012 Nurnberg:
The new outdoor season usually starts in the time of Nurnberg Hobby Show at the end of January. As with everything in the world and our lives, the exhibitions change as well. The Chicago Hobby Show used to be huge and important for the industry, but that show has finished already due to low attendance. During the several last years I have noticed a decline in attendance of the Nurnberg show as well, but in the age of the Internet when all the news are posted and spread around the world immediately, it really makes sense that dealers and distributors save their time and money on travelling so far to see the products that they already have seen on the Internet and discussed all business details via e-mails or other online communication tools. At the same time, the manufacturers nowadays in the over-crowded market do not wait any more to make major releases at the exhibitions… once something is new, they present it to public on the Internet immediately.


This year the trend continues and I can say that this year the attendance of the visitors was probably the lowest since I started attending this show 20 years ago. Considering the fact that we are a racing company aimed at high-level racing cars – not RTR or toys – and considering the low attendance and importance of this event recently, we have decided that for the next year we will not participate at this event. We will use the time and resources for some other events where we can get closer to our customers and fans more effectively, and we already have some great ideas and plans in mind. After so many years it is sad to get to this point, but it is the same as the day we stopped using the fax and started using e-mails. The exhibitions seem to be getting to the same point. I can see still the importance of the shows, but rather at a local level and joining with some events where dealers can meet with the customers and the customers can have fun with some real action.

2012 first races:
The first two months of 2012 had several major races on the schedule, and the season has started more than perfectly for XRAY in all categories. I hope this trend and performance of the team will continue during the entire season and of course Martin, the XRAY factory and support team and I will be at all major international races around the world. Of course during the year I will bring insightful views from all main events, and if you will be any of these races you are welcome to come see me. I will be more than happy to chat with any XRAY customer or fan about anything, preferably about RC cars and set-ups. 

As I am getting to the end of this month’s column I have no more space to get into details of the first 2012 races as there are already too many of them done, and so I would rather like to highlight the main ones:

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DHI – Alex Hagberg sets TQ with the T3 at the opening event of the 2012 racing season in Denmark, finishing 2nd at the end. In total, three XRAY T3 were in the main finals in both Modified and Stock categories.

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ETS Round 2 – the second race of the European Touring Series was held in Italy and Team XRAY continues its strong performance. In the Stock category, there were four XRAY T3 in the main final with Zdenko Kunak taking the TQ and finishing 2nd.

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GP Montpellier – the 1/8 off-road racing 2012 season started in France at the GP Montpellier where the all-new XB9 had its first debut with a great achievement of a TQ by Reno and double podium finish by Reno Savoya and Martin Bayer.

Australian Summer Nationals – over the ocean the summer Nationals in 1/10 electric touring and 1/10 nitro touring category was held in Australia with impressive achievements from Team XRAY. The NT1 and T3 won their respective categories at the hands of Tim Lee and Ari Bakla. In the 1/10 electric touring categories, there were five T3 in Modified main final, four T3 in the Stock main final, and four NT1 in the Nitro Touring main final.

WC warm-up Bangkok, Thailand – the WC warm-up for the 1/10 nitro touring world championship was held in Bangkok with a double podium finish for NT1 with Dirk Wischnewski finishing in 2nd.

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TITC Bangkok – the first major international 1/10 electric touring car race is held annually in Bangkok and this year the event again welcomed all the best drivers including World and European champions Marc Rheinard, Atsushi Hara, Andy Moore and Jilles Groskamp. Within the world class competition level, Meen Vejrak was able to beat all the world champions by setting TQ and even winning with his XRAY T3.

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Snowbirds nationals – one of the world’s largest on-road races is held annually in Florida, USA in early February. In the last decade, Team XRAY has been the most successful team at this event and the 2012 was no different. Team XRAY TQ’d and won in three classes including 1/10 electric touring Modified (Alexander Hagberg), 1/10 electric touring Stock (Mike Haynes) and 1/12 pancar class (Paul Lemieux).

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US Winternats – the nitro on-road opening race of the 2012 season is held annually in Florida, USA and Team XRAY USA continued their performance and dominance. In both 1/8 and 1/10 classes, it was current World Champion Ralph Burch who set the TQ but was only able to win the 1/8 main final with his RX8 with team mate Paul Lemieux bringing home the trophy in the 1/10 category with the NT1. In all three classes (1/8 open, 1/8 masters and 1/10), Team XRAY put four cars in the main final with the team using the new parts – many of them still in the prototype version. A great debut of the 2012 specs of both the NT1 and RX8!

Besides these major races there are dozens of regional races, but of course I will not be able to cover them all. Thanks go to the entire XRAY team for an excellent start to the 2012 season, and I hope the performance will be there for the entire year.


See you around the tracks!

Enjoy the ride and ‘til next time,

Dipl. Eng. Juraj Hudy
XRAY Chief Designer

Archive:
Column #1 - Behind the Scene Stories
Column #2 - Worlds Flashback
Column #3 - T2'007 Debut
Column #4 - Designing the T2'007
Column #5 - Worldcup Review and NT1 Testing
Column #6 - Developing and Designing the NT1
Column #7 - Developing and Designing the NT1 - Part 2
Column #8 - Back to the Races
Column #9 - XT8 Truggy Development
Column #10 - Touring Car Development
Column #11 - Bling-bling Mentality
Column #12 - Hot Summer Washout
Column #13 - New Electric Touring Car
Column #14 - Off-road Development
Column #15 - My micro love
Column #16 - Back in the Dirt
Column #17 - Worlds Preparations
Column #18 - 808 Tests & Stress
Column #19 - Excited for the Worlds?
Column #20 - Statistics, Expenses Sheets, Production Analysis, Calculations…
Column #21 + Column #22 - Euros + Euros + Worlds
Column #23 - The Busiest Season Ever
Column #24 - In Between the Worlds
Column #25 + Column #26 - Well Developed or Overdeveloped?
Column #27 - Back to The Future
Column #28 - 2009 Kick-off
Column #29 - Crazy what?
Column #30 - Last indoor race of the season
Column #31 - Getting into summer season
Column #32 - Heading for the Euros
Column #33 - Testing - Always last minute, always new ideas
Column #34 - European Champion - title celebration
Column #35 - Time to move on
Column #36 - National Heroes
Column #37 - 2010 ready
Column #38 - Decade of Triumph
Column #39 - 2010 Racing Calendar
Column #40 - DHI, ETS & Nürnberg Show
Column #41 - World Championship Practice
Column #42 - EC indoor, EC 1/12, Silverstate, LRP Masters, Neo
Column #43 - Nationals All Around
Column #44 - Warm Warm-ups, Challenging Challenges
Column #45 - Electric Touring Worlds 2010
Column #46 - Team XRAY - World Champion!!!
Column #47 - Summer Vacation, 30x USA Champion Title
Column #48 - T3 Saga Continues
Column #49 - RX8 – What? How? When?
Column #50 - The Making of the RX8 – Part II
Column #51 - Shake It, Baby, Shake It...
Column #52 - Racing Season ‘11 Full Running
Column #53 - From On-road to Off-road
Column #54 - Testing and Once Again… Testing
Column #55 - Half of the EC Championships – Done!
Column #56 - Summer is Gone…Euros are Done
Column #57 - Never-ending Development
Column #58 - From XB8 to XB9
Column #59 - From XB8 To XB9 pt.2