LONDON—When it comes to the tire factories of the future, Industry 4.0 will play a significant role in shaping how they look and operate, according to Cimcorp Technology Director Jyrki Anttonen. He also believes that tire makers will be forced to "think outside the box" and make changes to some of the established practices.
He will expound on both of these issues when he gives his presentation on managing end-to-end automation and robotics on the first day of the Future Tire Conference 2017, sent for June 27-28 in Cologne, Germany.
First, please identify one significant technical development in the tire industry over recent years, and explain its importance.
Software that integrates the production machines and material handling systems to automate the material flow and control the production process from raw materials goods-in to the finished tire loading dock. At Cimcorp we have our own software suite, including our Warehouse Control System (WCS) and Manufacturing Execution System (MES), which enables integration into one seamless operation. It raises productivity dramatically through smaller buffer stores and reduced work in process (WIP). In addition, it improves the transparency of the production process, paving the way for further enhancement and development in the future.
What do you see as the main barriers to the development of the tire manufacturing industry over the next few years?
Many tire companies have manufacturing methods and production strategies that they have followed for decades. The established way of doing things naturally leads to conservative thinking. This is especially true for the upstream processes—raw materials, mixing and compounding, and component manufacturing—in tire plants. We need to help tire producers to think outside of the box.
Cimcorp has created innovative solutions for the downstream processes—from tire building to shipping—and these new ideas have been very well received by our customers. What requires new thinking is the upstream processes.
Which technologies will play the biggest role in shaping the 'tire factory of the future', and why?
Lean manufacturing technology that is fully adapted to the demands of the tire industry. Lean manufacturing makes it obvious what adds value, and strips back everything that does not add value. The result is smaller production buffers—for green tires, for example—and minimized waiting times, meaning 100 percent availability of all materials at every production machine.
Another key concept will be modularity; this needs a shift in management thinking to realize that you don't need to establish a huge tire plant all at once; you can build new capacity (by adding production lines) in a modular fashion, step by step.
Looking into the crystal ball, what big changes do you expect to see in tire manufacture and supply by 2030?
Industry 4.0 will be the most important factor in shaping the smart plants of the future. Cimcorp's Dream Factory solution already features the key elements of Industry 4.0—modular plant structure, process control and robotic systems.
In this way, just-in-time and lean manufacturing will truly break through and enable streamlined production, higher utilization rates and minimized buffer stores, resulting in maximum productivity.