Innovations in Tyre Production
Requirements and priorities have shifted in tyre making processes, with increased stress on faster, cheaper, greener ways to achieve better product quality. These are factors that do not leave any room for compromises. Manufacturers are looking further deeper into future prospects than at any time in the industry’s history. This is because of the rapid evolution of the market environment, which does not provide a second opportunity for tyre manufacturers to get in lane.
Technological innovation is the trendy term in every aspect of the industry – all the way from the point of product conceptualisation and production to the very last stop of what to do with expired tyres. While some aspects of the evolution are natural developments that are part of the industry’s time-line, many others are forced by external factors, such as environment concerns and regulations mandated by it.
Automation has done wonders to tyre manufacturing process. This is not just about a few machines that replace human intervention and work faster and better, but also about efficient management of technological knowhow.
“Automation as a cost driver is a good option. But it has to be efficiently done. Cost matters, but not as much as long-term benefits. It is not speed, but output that is more important,” Harm Voortman, President & CEO of VMI Group has said. The Group is a global pioneer in the field of production line automation with several innovative machineries to its credit.
VMI’s Maxx Actizones, the “hands-off, eyes-off” high-end tyre building machines represent a benchmark in advanced technology for greater automation, flexibility, output and operator safety.
“I see a clear trend in the growing preference for single stage tyre building,” Jan Grashuis, Director of R&D Tire Building at VMI Holland, told Polymers & Tyre Asia in an interview. This method is already adopted by the industry for many years but is now widely recognised as the shortest and most economical path to the profitable production of high quality tyres.
Kai Hauvala, CEO&President, Black Donuts Engineering, also lays stress on the fact that automation as such is not the core, and being capable of offering it is nothing unique. ”More important is to master the big picture and build a system to support overall profitability, whether it means rationalising the customer’s entire production or only enhancing some individual processes,” he told PTA in an exclusive interview.
Tyre manufacturers focused on long term growth cannot afford to overlook the importance of automation, says Kai Tuomisaari, Vice President, Sales & Projects of Finland-based CimcorpOy, leaders in providing world class robotic solutions to tyre makers. The company has provided thousands of gantry and linear robots to major tyre companies like Apollo Tyres, Bridgestone, Continental, Cooper Tires, Goodyear Dunlop Tires, Hankook, Michelin and many more.
Computer simulation also has greatly helped tyre makers in advance production planning and strategic deployment of machines. This software-aided system provides 3D presentations on production line processes, including potential fault lines. The end result is that the production manager can control the whole process from his computer screen. One can imagine the level of efficiency it offers.
Considering the pace with which new technology keeps on redefining tyre industry, it is hard to predict the longevity of a particular system of solutions because things keep moving. Today’s technology would be extinct when a new system replaces it tomorrow. This explains why companies are now keen to invest in R&D without any question. There is no other option.
See full story in Polymers & Tyre Asia December-January issue