Cologne, Germany – Industry 4.0 is now a widely used term for what is regarded as a fourth industrial revolution, in which manufacturing and production processes are integrated and managed though advanced digital technologies such as cyber-physical systems and powerful analytical software.
According to its proponents, Industry 4.0 will change the face of manufacturing beyond recognition: offering real-time access to new levels of information that can provide new insights and efficiencies across all manufacturing processes.
Potential benefits of Industry 4.0 for tire makers could, therefore, include the ability to fine tune their operations to produce more customised products, and to test and develop new compounds and designs far more rapidly and effectively.
These capabilities would also help remove barriers between the tire industry and the far more tech-savvy automotive sector.
However, the tire industry is in danger of missing out on this manufacturing renaissance, according to many of the industry experts attending the recent Tite Technology Expo conference and exhibition in Cologne.
Typical of these viewpoints were the comments of Paolo Butti, automation & tire industry leader, Europe, Middle East and Africa, at Rockwell Automation
"Without offending anyone in the tire industry to get to Industry 4.0, you have to be at Industry 3.0,” Butti told ERJ during the TTE exhibition.
“Many tire companies are not there yet,” he added. “Some processes are still machine-driven [rather than being] technology-driven and integrated plant-wide.”
“The tire industry is very conservative. For sure, it will not take a big jump but will be a transition.”
The way forward will require investment in both new technologies and skills as well as convergence between operational technology and IT, the Rockwell manager concluded.
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