Seoul, South Korea—Hankook Tire & Technology Co. Ltd. has begun automating the final inspection process for tires by applying artificial intelligence and digital sensor technology to enhance efficiency and consistency.
Hankook is developing the inspection system for now as proprietary technology, but said it believes it could turn the process into a stand-alone business that it would consider licencing to third parties at some point.
Hankook noted final-stage inspection involves three types of examination to detect possible defects: internal inspection using a type of shearography; X-ray inspection of a tire's internal structure; and external visual inspection.
In particular, Hankook believes AI-based technology can be brought to bear in the shearography—which it refers to as Interferometer Tire Testing—and X-ray inspections.
Currently, skilled technicians evaluate the ITT images using expertise gained during years of experience, Hankook said.
Using AI technology would allow the computer to find defects in nonconforming patterns systematically, thus accelerating the process.
Shearography, or interferometric measurement, is a non-destructive, contactless inspection process that compares two laser-based images of a tire—one at rest and one under vacuum—to determine if there are any anomalies in a tire's internal construction.
Hankook said it collaborated with AI experts from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology to develop and implement this system.
For now, the AI-based system is in place at one plant: Hankook’s Geumsan, South Korea, car and truck tire factory
However, there are plans to begin installing it at other plants worldwide after the testing is finished in October, Hankook said.