AKRON—Advanced manufacturing processes, applied to both facilities and people, are the way toward profitability and product excellence for tire manufacturers, according to experts speaking at the International Tire Exhibition & Conference in Akron Sept. 11-13.
Mesnac created the Smart Factory concept, which it began applying to tire manufacturing in 2015, according to Mesnac Americas CEO Jerry Gu.
"The vision was to make a better tire," Gu said. And the goals in achieving smart production, he said, are to make tire production smart with high quality, high efficiency, low inventory, low cost, automation and energy-saving environmental gains.
Mesnac built the first smart tire factory in China for Wanli Tire Corp. Ltd., according to Gu.
The factory included more than 50 completed digital workshop projects and more than 2,000 modules with fully automated logistics solutions, he said.
"In the Mesnac concept, we tried to unify today's tire machinery with planned automation, software and artificial intelligence," Gu said.
In the Wanli smart plant, all-process automation reduces the time to produce a single tire from 48 to 30 hours, breaking a speed record for the tire industry, according to Gu.
"Product consistency is greatly promoted and the quality control system is better guaranteed," he said.
The Mesnac concept creates a complete digital ecosystem for the tire plant and interconnects all aspects of research and development, production and marketing, according to Gu.
Among the features of the Wanli plant are:
A natural and synthetic rubber grinding and blending line, with an automatic conveyor system;
A master/final batch storage and automatic conveyor systems;
Automatic storage and conveying for pre-cut treads, rubberized steel rolls, beads, breakers, and play and inner liner systems;
Automatic mold warehousing with an ex-warehouse information management system; and
A green tire automatic unloading, conveying, spraying, saving and delivering to curing system.
Besides greatly reducing production time, the Mesnac smart plant achieves a 99.9 percent qualified rate; reduces labor by two-thirds, from 2,100 to 700 employees; and annually saves 400,000 metric tons of water and 26 million kilowatt hours of electricity, according to Gu.
Mesnac founded the China Tyre Intelligent Manufacturing & Standardization Alliance in 2017, according to Gu. It has more than 30 members, including 20 large tire companies, he said.
According to Gu, CTIMSA is drafting six standards, including:
Communication among machines;
Unification of terms and language;
Utilization standards for manufacturing execution systems (MES);
Utilization standards for logistics;
HMI software standards for an intelligent factory; and
General specifications for equipment prediction maintenance and health management.
Rise of digitalization