Explaining the latest advances to this technology, Kai Tuomisaari, vice president, sales and projects, pointed to “the introduction of Cimcorp’s MES (manufacturing execution system) dedicated for tire manufacture. It ensures100-percent traceability of the production history of each tire and tracing of raw materials, components, green tires and finished tires.
“Automation with total process flow control takes care of the complete internal transportation logistics between processes and storage areas. It covers interfaces to PLCs, robot controllers and upper host and provides optimised material flow and visualisation. It simply guarantees that the right product is in the right place at the right time.”
Asked about the external technologies that are contributing most to improving the effectiveness of Cimcorp’s Dream Factory concept, Tuomisaari was enthusiastic about current moves by tire manufacturers to add bar codes to the tires.
“It is a great improvement and gives a lot of possibilities for automation,” he commented. “Now we can identify and trace the tire throughout the manufacturing process.”
Tire companies have also invested in their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that make data collection, processing and tracing possible, Tuomisaari continued. “Also some process machine manufacturers have equipped their machines with cell controls or platforms that allow easier connection to upper level systems”.
For its part, Cimcorp has been developing an MES dedicated to tire manufacture. This, the VP noted, would not be possible without the advance of external control/IT technologies.
With regards to the next steps forward, the Cimcorp executive pointed to automation with total material and data-flow control.
These capabilities, said Tuomisaari, can ensure “100% availability of materials, components and tires in each process phase, minimum buffer storages meaning less work In process (sic) (WIP), and just in time (JIT) deliveries to different processes. That’s how the tire manufacturers can decrease the amount of scrap and increase production capacity.”
Perhaps the most difficult area of the tire manufacturing plant to automate is the mixing area due to its traditional reliance on batch processes – many often requiring manual interventions by workers who often have to operate in unpleasant working environments.
Among the equipment makers seeking to change all this is Mesnac, which has advanced an interesting series of mixing equipment developments including for mixer feeding, small chemical weighing and one-step mixing.
The Mesnac mixer feeding system features an independently-developed slab cutter, soft powder scale and fluidised scale, according to Li Lubo, deputy general manager of the Chinese company’s dosing system division.
“Our slab cutter [allows] automatic mixture of the rubber and improves rubber uniformity. Small power fluctuations in the mixing process further extends mixer service life. On top of it high automation reduces mixing time and improves productivity.”
The sensors on the soft powder scale are “specially installed” and the scale structure is designed to ensure a C6 level accuracy of the scale, Lubo also pointed out. The unit is equipped with an automated scale calibration unit to ensure the accuracy of powder scale.
The injection accuracy of the fluidised scale is said to be within 1 percent. It is also possible to eliminate interference of material viscosity and density during the weighing process to ensure weighing precision.