“Our aim is to raise revenue per capita by 150 percent, double the profit margin-rate and raise the ‘informatisation’ rate to 90 percent,” said Fan. “Employee headcount will be reduced by a third, although a larger base of executives is expected for better management.”
Sentury, a bellwether in such transformation, already has two smart plants in operation. One, at its Qingdao site, started production in 2014 and claims to be China’s first Industry 4.0 tire plant. It has 5 million* unit passenger car tire annual capacity and received nearly €90 million investment.
The company has also pumped €350 million into its high-performance passenger car tire plant in Rayong, Thailand. It has 12 million unit annual capacity planned with a total area of 220,000 square metres.
With manufacturing and monitoring equipment from the world’s leading suppliers, such as Finland’s Cimcorp and Germany’s Krupp, the two plants have realised fully automatic manufacturing for processes from mixing to curing, and are able to raise single-machine production by 50 percent with a 99.8 percent product acceptance rate. The workforce is reduced by 75 percent and construction area cut down by 50 percent compared to the company’s standard facilities.
The Thailand plant produced its first tire last August and is expected to reach 30,000 tire/day capacity in June. With optimised design, the distance between raw materials and end products at the Thailand plant is only half of that in traditional plants, saving costs in construction and logistics.
Its automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS), expected to have been completed this May, is claimed to be the most advanced such system among China’s tire makers, with 50 percent more storage capability compared with traditional storehouses of the same area. The 40-metre tall ASRS covers less than 20,000 square metres and can handle 36,000 tires a day.