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Color Service hopes to expand use of automated dosing system

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 Color Service's automated chemical bagging and weighing system
A schematic showing how Color Service's automated chemical bagging and weighing system is designed.

AKRON—An Italian dosing technologies firm is beginning to market an automated chemical bagging and weighing system to the tire industry that it has been selling to custom rubber compounders for the past several years.

Color Service S.R.L. thus far has sold the system for use in seven tire plants, all purchased by an Indian tire maker. The company said having “accurate and repeatable dosing and weighing” of additives and chemicals used in rubber compounds “is paramount to achieving constant and repeatable results.”

The company has had good success with custom compounders in the three years the firm has offered the technology but knows the tire industry needs the equipment on a larger scale, according to Tony Gowan, an area sales manager for Color Service who discussed the plans during an interview in Akron.

“Based on these needs, we have improved the throughput of our system from one bag a minute to one bag every 30 seconds,” he said. “This gives them the productivity they need.”

Color Service is planning to introduce the technology to other prospective tire industry customers at the International Tire Exhibition and Conference for Tire Manufacturing, to be held Sept. 9-11 in Akron. Plans were to have a complete system for demonstrations on the exhibit floor.

The Italian firm is a family-owned business with roots as a textile company that also works with leather and does a bit in the agriculture and pharmaceutical sectors, Gowan said.

About three years ago, it entered the rubber industry, supplying weighing and dosing technology for two Italian compounders. Since then, he said Color Service has sold more than 30 systems to compounders in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

The system works by forming EVA bags from a tubular film, with all information and details printed on the bag according to the recipe. It then weighs all the components for the compound, and the ingredients are put into sealable bags, which are delivered to the mixer platform, according to the company.

Color Service said the benefits of having a fully automatic chemical bagging and weighing system include labor cost savings; increased weighing accuracy and reproducibility; decreased scrap and lost batches; better productivity; decreased chemical waste; bar code capability to assure correct chemicals are added at the mixer; and traceability from receipt of raw materials through product completion.

Gowan said the company has a chance to fill a need in the tire production arena because while tire factories are becoming highly automated, their facilities in many cases are much less automated in the chemical weighing area.

“In this one area they are still working in a manner they did 20 or 30 years ago,” he said. “This puts a big hole in the plant's ability to guarantee every batch is correct. Now the plants can be assured in the accuracy and reproducibility of every batch of rubber day in and day out.”

Benefits of device

The tire company customer in India has reported excellent results, Gowan said. The customer claimed it had:

• reduced labor cost by 70 percent;

• produced 60,000 bags over a 41-day period and had just one failure;

• greatly improved the plant environment because of the reduced dust from handling chemicals manually;

• projected that the system will pay for itself in 31 months, less than the five years projected at the time of purchase.

A couple other competitors can offer semi-automatic weighing and dosing systems, but none with the automated capability that Gowan said the Color Service unit has.

“Tire plants have had to make do with systems that are semi-automatic at best or even continue to weigh and handle the chemicals completely by hand,” he said. “By their nature tire plants need automation to be sure the quality of every tire is correct. Without automation in the chemical weighing area it is hard to achieve this uniformly.”

Color Service has been in discussions with major tire manufacturers globally and looks for interest to grow after its capability is put on display at ITEC, Gowan said.

He is based out of Sherrils Ford, N.C., and serves as the sales agent for Color Service in North America. The firm has hired a person based out of Charlotte, N.C., to handle installations and will hire more technicians as needed.