Hangzhou, China – China’s number 1 tire maker Zhongce Rubber Group Co. Ltd. (ZC Rubber) is expecting to achieve significant improvements in production efficiency through the use of 5G technology.
In a statement provided to ERJ 19 Oct, the company said its ‘5G smart factory’, currently under construction in an undisclosed location, will employ “data network platform innovation and data-driven production process reengineering” to achieve the efficiencies.
With the factory, ZC Rubber expects to enhance flexible production and create a replicable platform for the tire industry.
ZC estimates the data-driven technology to reduce product development cycle by 50%, to three months, while increasing production efficiency 15% from 35.5 million units per year to 40.85 million units.
The tire manufacturer did not provide further details about when the ‘future factory’ will be operational but said that the plant will reduce defect rate by 40% to 1% of production and lower loss rate by 30% to 7% once fully on-stream.
In addition, the factory is expected to change the ‘original labour-intensive model’ and reduce workforce by 70% compared to traditional factories. This, ZC Rubber said, would reduce the workforce in a typical factory from 450 people to 140.
The smart factory will respond to the three new manufacturing trends in the tire industry: mass customisation, small-batch production, and unpredictable supply-chain disruption management.
As part of this, the factory aims to transform from the traditional B2M (business-to-manufacturer) to C2M (customer-to-manufacturer) model.
Furthermore, it will realise smart production and lean management through 'industrial internet' and internet of things (IoT).
The factory will employ AR-aided (augmented-reality-aided) maintenance, which means operators can provide visual guidance on equipment maintenance without much relevant knowledge in advance.
“Even some junior operators can quickly and accurately determine the condition of the equipment and complete the maintenance under the guidance of AR,” said ZC Rubber.
The goal, said the tire maker, is to maintain equipment “at a lower cost and higher efficiency” and strengthen process reliability and standardisation.
The plant also features a smart monitoring system, which includes 4K/8K HD video recording and real-time analytics based on 5G and machine vision technology.
This enables operators to request guidance from remote experts, who can perform playback, screenshots, and on-demand video signals and send guidance combined with images and voice to the site.
“Smart monitoring will benefit the entire production network with faster decisions and actions to improve the operation process and increase productivity through automation,” the tire maker noted.
Furthermore, the ‘future factory’ will employ “indoor positioning system” which can display the real-time location of personnel, issue safety warnings, and conduct the emergency evacuation.
This system will help realise indoor navigation, personnel asset management and behaviour analysis to save costs and improve service.
The factory will also be equipped with predictive maintenance and early warning systems, to optimise the lifespan of the equipment.
ZC Rubber ranks 9 in ERJ’s Global Tire Report 2020 with sales of $3.85 billion.