HERALDING NEW AGE OF MACHINE INTELLIGENCE
By TA News Bureau:
In the world of tyre building and rubber industry machines VMI Group stands tall, its highly sophisticated products redefining manufacturing process, making it a hands-off, eyes-off operation. The result is cost effectiveness and sustainability
VMI, the Dutch-based global leader in tyre building and rubber machinery solution providers, has always been ahead of its time in product innovation. The emphasis on constant innovation through research and development has driven the company to remarkable success in an area of fierce competition. At the heart of VMI’s vision technology is a sophisticated system that effectively replaces the eyes of the operator, enabling complete hands-off and eyes-off production. The company has taken automation and machine intelligence to higher levels.
VMI products bear the stamp of unbeatable quality giving them the competitive edge. “We are committed to the principles of Industry 4.0 through our aim of creating much greater connectivity and a wider use of machine intelligence to drive speed, agility and production integration across the industry,” Harm Voortman, CEO, told Tyre Asia
The latest example for this commitment is VMI PIXXEL, a single, integrated platform containing its own logical and processing capabilities. High speed tyre building requires smart hardware platform. VMI PIXXEL is the company’s answer to this aspect of tyre manufacturing. It enhances the performance for both guidance and monitoring. New levels of visualization have been introduced into the Graphical User Interface (GUI) for the operators. The result is both greater speed and accuracy in performance as well as much improved simplicity in operation and management, leading directly to better productivity.
VMI PIXXEL also has the ability to interface and integrate with all systems, both hardware and software, around it, thus bringing Industry 4.0 to reality. Data obtained during the production process, can now also be exported as a way of improving quality assurance and for providing auditable, as well as instantly available data for use by tyre manufacturers.
The company’s use of cutting-edge technology is also reflected in the passenger tyre building machine, VMI MAXX. The MAXX tyre building machine maximizes output, quality, ergonomics and flexibility. At the same time, set-up times, maintenance and machine complexity have been minimized making it possible for just one person to operate the system.
The MAXX tyre-building machine is equipped with a robot for automatic loading of the apexed bead into the machine. It can also take care of green tyre removal. This releases the operator from his task in front of the machine and frees him to work on the loading of components.
The use of robotic and vision systems reduces the cycle time, resulting in an exceptional productivity. But also the influence of the operator on the quality of the green tyre is further decreased.
VMI products are of high software and hardware sophistication, designed and made to suit customer needs. This requirement-oriented process helps the customer cut cost considerably. There is 24/7 service backup available globally, which adds to the company’s acceptability among tyre and rubber manufacturers, both small and big.
The newly introduced VMI Remote Guidance, a product of VMI Services, underlines this focus. Utilising a high resolution video system, the company’s remote support engineer is able to guide the customer through the faultfinding procedure in order to quickly resolve the issue without the need to travel to site. Calling upon the latest interactive technology, the engineer guides a customer’s engineer to help pinpoint a defective part or cause of a problem.
The system makes complicated procedures easily visible and clearly indicates what tasks have to be performed. This real-time advice considerably saves on response time, thus reducing downtime and assuring a quick continuation of the production process.
New facility in Poland
Strategic expansion moves have been giving a boost to VMI’s global presence. The new facility in Poland is its latest such move. The ground breaking ceremony for the plant took place in Leszno, Poland, which will be a 13,500 m2 facility in the first phase, to be built on an 8 hectare plot of land to extend the current manufacturing capabilities of the company.
During the ground breaking ceremony, Harm Voortman, CEO and Guido Roncken, COO, and other officials signed a foundation act as a remembrance to this historic fact. The act itself was placed and buried in a cornerstone, laying the foundation of a successful VMI Poland Sp. z o.o.
VMI Poland in Leszno will be a key element in the growth strategy of VMI and will be instrumental to the realization of the ambitious plans of the Group. The new facility will operate in conjunction with the existing sites of the VMI Group, which now has entities in 8 countries on 4 continents. Currently, VMI Poland is operating in a rental location with over 60 employees.
The new facility will help shorten the delivery time of VMI’s high end equipment, while maintaining a low-cost level. Expected to be operational in September 2017, the state-of-the-art facility will adopt the latest manufacturing principles and will employ 125 people in the first phase.
South American base
The Group recently opened the new facility of VMI South America Ltda, in Itatiaia Brazil, after a relocation to a larger area in the city of Itatiaia, about half way between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Managing Director Robson Souza de Araujo and his team now have approximately 1,350 m2 floor space at their disposal, comprising of a workshop and office space, all required for VMI’s increasing activities in South America.
The VMI South America facility is also the production-assembly location for the company’s successful RETRAX program of tyre retreading machines for that region. The RETRAX is a machine for retread cushion gum extrusion smearing and, optionally, a high accuracy pre-cured tread application.
VMI’s rich heritage dates back to 1945, with the laying of the foundation stones at exactly the same spot where the company’s headquarters stands today. Right next to the water mill in Zuuk, in an area with industrialization dating back to the early 1800s, the company helped to rebuild the Dutch railways after World War II. It soon expanded into the rubber and tire industry, and nowadays VMI is regarded market leader in most of its industries.
Since 1985, VMI has been a subsidiary of the TKH Group NV, the parent corporation of an international group of companies specializing in innovative technology for telecom, building and industrial solutions.
The company’s environmental policy is designed to achieve continuous improvements in minimizing the burden on the environment by taking measures to save energy and reduce waste.
Over 1200 people are engaged in VMI’s global operations, continuously striving to take the company and through it the industry to the next level by providing state-of-the-art, innovative technology that helps its customers become more successful.