Today’s businesses are under immense pressure – from consumers, shareholders and governments – to limit both the amount of natural resources they consume and the waste they produce.
This sense of urgency surrounding sustainability is making brands not only more conscious of their environmental reputation, but also more motivated to act. For example, Amazon recently pledged to be carbon neutral by 2040, while Google committed to using recycled materials in all its hardware products by 2022.
How can tire factories contribute to a more sustainable planet?
Cutting carbon is a good start
There are easy ways for plants to reduce their carbon footprint, such as by using renewable power sources (solar, wind or tidal) and energy efficient measures (such as using skylights, LED lighting and insulation). During delivery vehicle loading, optimal use of space and drop sequences can help slash miles from transport and thereby cut fuel consumption.
Go green with automation
Although less obvious, intralogistics automation can also help tire plants minimize their environmental impact. Namely, an optimized layout centered around automation means smaller buffer stores, a smaller facility and therefore a smaller building footprint.
Automated material handling systems that connect various production processes also enable more efficient material flow. Materials arrive at each process step on time, avoiding delays and bottlenecks, and so minimizing the amount of scrap and the number of transport tasks.
Automation not only makes order picking more efficient, but also incredibly accurate, which provides environmental benefits through fewer returns.
A sum as green as its parts
Beyond overall layout, the design of a system’s individual elements can enhance sustainability too. Using advanced materials that are lightweight but robust—as well as high-quality bearings and gearboxes that lower friction—reduces energy consumption.
Then technologies such as regenerative braking and the recycling of heat energy (in colder climates) can help lower energy use even further. And in the finished tire dispatch area, robotic systems can calculate the optimal palletizing method for each product type and arrange the tires in a space-saving rick-rack pattern.
Maintain a sustainable system
Once a tire factory – whether a greenfield or brownfield – is operating an automated intralogistics system, it’s also important to make sure it’s a sustainable solution that will run for a long time. A service agreement – which can cover preventive maintenance, tailored support and system repair – with your vendor can make both economic and environmental sense.
And, with digitalized maintenance platforms, predictive maintenance is now possible. Through the latest in the Internet of Things (IoT), sophisticated sensors can collect real-time data – e.g. motor speed, vibration levels, and temperature changes – to proactively identify potential problems.
Looking ahead, there may be an increase in reshoring to cut energy consumption in the global transport of tires, with a number of smaller tire factories tailoring their products to local markets.
There will be more green initiatives geared towards shifting traditional, linear supply chains to more circular ones that encourage the reuse of materials and resources. With the slogan ‘Getting more out of less’ and a commitment to protecting the environment, this is a transition that Cimcorp has embraced for some time.
For tire manufacturers, this means recycling end-of-life tires into oil, steel and carbon black – some of which can be reused in production. Digitalization holds the key to further progress, enabling real-time communication around the circular supply chain. Gartner predicts that the circular economy will be the only economy by 2029.
Click here to learn more about the efficiency and sustainability gains possible with Cimcorp Dream Factory, the end-to-end automated handling solution for tire factories.
Author Jukka-Pekka Akola