||July 28, 2011
The principal players in the automotive industry have embarked on a new campaign to reduce product variation and manufacturing costs of automotive components, sub-systems, and systems. The tire manufacturers are challenged more than some other suppliers to meet these new quality requirements that are being developed Reduction in tolerance stacking effects, improved reliability, greater safety, and elimination of unplanned costs are central issues for the tire industry today. To meet these new market challenges, many tire manufacturers have begun to use the rubber process analyzer (RPA) directly on the factory floor as a very sensitive “gauge” to predict downstream processabliity behavior and tire performance. This test instrument is being deployed in a methodical way in new quality programs, such as Six Sigma, to enable tire producers to get control of their “supply chain” and their fabrication process. This paper will present illustrations on ways the RPA can be utilized in the factory to improve product quality and unlock significant cost reductions. These illustrations will show how the RPA can provide valuable new information to allow the process to stay in a state of statistical control. Also, the viscoelastic data that the RPA provides can be used to determine assignable causes of variation so the appropriate corrective actions can be taken.