To meet its ambitious growth targets, India’s largest tire manufacturer, Apollo Tyres Ltd, is building a brand-new factory in Southern India and the company has commissioned Cimcorp to supply the facility’s state-of-the-art robotic systems.
Apollo is set to achieve turnover of 1.37 billion Euros next year, which means that it will have doubled its revenues in less than three years. This would be impressive in normal economic times but is quite staggering given the global recession and the recent all-time highs of oil and rubber prices.
Operating eight factories in India, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Netherlands, Apollo employs over 10,000 staff worldwide and its products are exported to over 70 countries. Construction of Apollo’s ninth factory – a greenfield facility in Sriperumbudur, just outside Chennai – is almost complete. Tires are expected to be rolling out of the new plant before the end of this year, with full production being reached next summer. At the Chennai Plant, manufacturing capacity will be ramped up to 8,000 PCR (Passenger Car Radial) and 3,000 TBR (Truck and Bus Radial) tires per day.
In line with its vision of achieving excellence in all areas of operation, Apollo is investing in robotic automation at the Chennai plant. The company has commissioned Cimcorp to install automation lines for the manufacture of both TBR and PCR tires, which will become operational next year. Cimcorp has contracted Larsen & Toubro Limited (LTM Business Unit) to provide some local production and installation support, but Cimcorp will remain responsible for the total system integration, as well as the interfaces to the processing machines and Apollo’s host system.
The TBR solution – which will be Cimcorp’s largest TBR project to date – is based on Cimcorp’s ‘dream factory’ concept, providing end-to-end logistics automation from the tire-building machines to storage of finished tires. For the PCR production, Cimcorp will supply automation in the finishing area, including two tire buffer systems, and provide complete control of the material flow.
The material handling for both TBR and PCR production will be controlled by Cimcorp’s Warehouse Control System (WCS), which will manage the entire material and data flow from the building machines to the warehouse. “Our proven robotic solutions for the tire industry and the capabilities of our WCS were the keys to securing this contract,” explains Markku Vesa, Managing Director of Cimcorp. “Apollo is very keen to take advantage of the real-time inventory features of WCS. With barcodes in all its tires, Apollo will have comprehensive, real-time production data from WCS to feed into its SCADA and SAP systems.”
A key reason behind Apollo’s decision to invest in robotic solutions from Cimcorp was the potential to reduce costs and thereby increase profitability. Says Neeraj Kanwar, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Apollo Tyres Ltd., “By streamlining our material and data flows, the logistics automation systems will allow process machines to be utilized at 100% capacity, thereby increasing the output of the manufacturing lines. Clearly, we expect this to have a positive effect on the bottom line of our business.”