IoT for Tire Industry: Vulcanizing the Tire Plant Operations

The Tire Industry has always been at the forefront of technological innovations, often leading the way for the rest of the pack. With the emergence of innovative technologies, ultra-modern production facilities and the rising global demand, the sector is poised to grow further. According to Global Industry Analysts, the global tire industry is slated to reach 2.5 billion units of production by 2022. This growth equation further stands to be revolutionized by the emergence of the Internet of Things.

Challenges in Tire Manufacturing

However, the tire industry is not alien to operational and supply chain challenges. There is a continuous pressure to maintain the EBITDA levels due to uncertain raw material costs and operational inefficiencies. Increasing costs of utilities, consumables and spares also have a significant impact on profitability. Tire manufacturing is actually a mix of batch production for upstream and discrete manufacturing in the downstream operations.

This poses various challenges on planning and scheduling of small batch sizes with a variety of SKUs. Traditionally, tire plant performance has been measured in terms of tonnage of output produced and this practice has had a detrimental impact on reliability and effectiveness of its supply chain performance. There is an urgent need to transform this approach and look at the capacity and performance of the plant in the TIME dimension.

Many tire plants have a mix of manufacturing assets ranging from legacy machines to the modern state of art machines with a heterogeneous mix of control systems, protocols, and outputs. Most of these plants typically run in departmental silos with hardly any data and information being shared across the value chain. Most of the data generated in the process are very local to the operator or engineer working in that area and is used mostly for monitoring, leading to very limited actionable insights.

How IoT Technology is Changing the Future of Tire Industry?

This is where the Internet of Things technology (IoT) fits in – the IoT solutions for Tire. IoT helps to connect these heterogeneous set of assets across the complete value chain and get data on a common platform to break the information islands on the floor. It helps to establish a single source of truth from the floor in terms of operational, machine and quality performance. It invokes a completely new paradigm and unravels hidden opportunities to Management to transform their operations. Aided by the right set of analytics tools, the data can be used to build models for predicting machine and process failures and do a more data-oriented root cause analysis of quality problems.

For instance, Calendering, one of the oldest and vital processes in tire/rubber manufacturing has a direct impact on the tire output, since the bonding of cloth or fabric to rubber or tire cord to rubber is critical to performance. The heavy duty machine has to perform at its top condition all the time. The machine has several rolls, sensors, motors and CPC controls to operate a complex process. It also consumes a large amount of energy. The challenge in this process is to ensure the effectiveness of the machine (output speed without losing quality), output quality, energy consumption and the operator’s safety. The calendering machine itself is a critical part of the overall tire manufacturing process where there are upstream and downstream dependencies from raw material feed to all the way final tire unit, hence any issue here.

So how can IoT help? With machines at every level connected to IoT Platform, this real-time machine data can help monitor the overall process and machine performances, identify the bottlenecks in real-time, send actionable alerts to control the process, and improve cycle time, use of consumables, and direct and indirect material availability.

IoT-enabled Smart Tires Technology

In short, tires need to get smarter but the question arises how? In the latest news, we have heard that global tire manufacturers such as Goodyear, Bridgestone, Continental and Michelin have already started experimenting with IoT-enabled software, platforms, and sensors to monitor and measure tire performance.

This is not where they stop by checking tire temperature and pressure. An IoT-connected sensor in the smart tire may collect data on driver behavior and road conditions – in the last trip did this car hit a pothole? Ultimately a smart tire technology will have the power to adjust the width and pressure of as per driving conditions.

Reap the benefits of digital transformation by getting started with Industrial IoT

  • Optimize utilities as water and energy and consumables as carbon black to reduce cost and boost availability.
  • Monitor the throughput of the mixing and calendaring process, which are often the bottlenecks in production.
  • Monitor critical machine parameters in real-time, enabling condition-based maintenance.
  • Perform root cause analysis of parameters that govern product quality using statistical techniques.

Altizon has deployed its platform at multiple tire manufacturing sites to introduce predictability in operations, reduce energy and utilities cost, and improve productivity. The payback for use cases in tire industry ranges from 10 months for energy and utilities to 21 months for quality.

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