MESNAC introduces the smart mixing solutions
Mixing is the most critical operation in the whole tyre manufacturing process, because it determines the quality of tyres. If you start the tyre manufacturing process with good quality compounds, most probably you can end up producing good quality tyres. But, if you start the process with a questionable quality compounds, then it will be very difficult to have quality tyres at the end, no matter how advanced, automated or expensive your subsequent equipment are or how good the rest of your operations are. The fact that, we have too many variabilities in the tyre manufacturing process and especially in the mixing operation makes it extremely difficult to have consistent, reliable quality compounds unless you have the right tools to do so. Following are just a few of the variabilities that a compounder faces in the mixing process are.
Same material coming from different vendors, most likely will have at least slight difference in the properties. Take for example the natural rubber viscosity. If you knew that we have on average about 20 raw materials that form a rubber compound, you can imagine if 6 or 7 of these raw materials are coming from different sources and how this will affect your compound consistency. Add to the raw materials variability factors like the raw material shelf life and how much you have it in the warehouse and if it is being used according to the First Come First Out (FIFO) role, and if the role is followed by your material handlers. Add also any compound recycling being done at the mixer and how you can keep track of the quality of this recycled material and it’s shelf life as well. Add also processing different batches of the master batch compounds (nonproductive stage) into the final mix compounds (productive stage) and if you are mixing different batches of the master batch or not to reduce the compounds variability.
We know that compounders dump off the batches from the mixers based on different variables, such as mixing temperature, time and/or power consumed in mixing. If your system does not have the required control tools, you will find big variabilities in the batch to batch quality. A compounder needs to be able to dump off the batches using any combination of these parameters. Also, the data acquisition system needs to be capable of recording all processing variables to subsequent analysis relating the processing conditions to the batch quality. It is very important to connect the batch measured quality in the laboratory with the processing parameters in real time. This way the compounder can readjust the processing parameters at the right time to avoid producing out of spec compounds. All of these capabilities should be available to the manufacturer to be able to get the desired compound quality and productivity.
Introduction of Smart Factory
In 2014, MESNAC signed the strategic cooperation agreement with Siemens and Bosch Rexroth to develop the Digital Factory. In 2015, MESNAC came up with the proposal of SMART FACTORY in rubber industry. In February of 2016, MESNAC was rewarded as the Tyre Industry Supplier of the Year by TTI. In Nov, 2016, WANLI Tyre factory, in Hefei, China, started operation. MESNAC, as the overall planner and implementer of this smart factory, became a supplier of the smart factory for intelligent tyre manufacturing. Mixing solution is one integrated part of this smart factory.
MESNAC has studied all the areas of compound mixing and diagnosed the problems in these areas then developed countermeasures that are used to avoid these problems to enable the compounder to achieve his targets of productivity and quality. This way MESNAC is introducing a complete solution for the mixing area either for custom mixers or for tyre manufacturers. Increasing the number of recipes a custom mixer or a regular tyre producer mixes puts even more burden and higher needs for quality and productivity control due to increasing the variabilities. Addressing these issues is what led to the development of MESNAC Smart Mixing Solution.
Considering the realisation of smart equipment and information software as the breakthrough point, the promotion of the smart factory as the entry point, and the promotion of production, management and service of the tyre factory as the target, MESNAC has devoted large teams to help the tyre manufacturers to improve their core competitiveness, these teams work in almost all continents. In our opinion, the smart factory can be upgraded or created from three components, hardware, software and service.
In the hardware area, MESNAC has developed more automatic and intelligent tyre manufacturing system, equipped with the data collection units such as RFID and CCDs to realize the intelligent logistics via robots, AGV and EMS, etc.
In the software area, MESNAC has develop artificial intelligence and machine learning applications including pattern recognition and Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) to realize the automatic control, monitoring, and the interconnectivity of the equipment.
In the services area, MESNAC has developed solutions for maintenance service of the equipment and the quality control service of the tyre manufacturing process. With these solutions, the equipment interconnectivity is built between the operator and the equipment and between the factory and the end user of the product. This should help the customer to get the target of the perfect combination of the automation and information technology aiming to build a highly coordinated smart factory with high efficiency.