Cimcorp has delivered two robotic projects at Continental’s Aachen tire factory recently. The aim is to raise availability and productivity.
The first involved moving a palletizing buffer system for PCR tires that was originally installed in Continental’s plant at Clairoix, France, to the Aachen site in 2011. This entire project – from disassembly at Clairoix, through transport of 14 truck loads, to start-up in Aachen – was completed in just six weeks, as planned. The system comprises six MBR700 gantry robots for the sorting of tires arriving from the uniformity measuring machines and three universal robots for the rick-rack palletization (that is, stacking in an interwoven pattern) of finished tires. The system is controlled by Cimcorp’s WCS (Warehouse Control System), which controls the flow and storage, maintaining product tracking and the FIFO (first in, first out) protocol throughout. The robots pick the tires, sort them according to tire type and uniformity classification and stack them on the floor. When there are sufficient tires of one type for a pallet load, the robot loads them into a cage in the most space-efficient rick-rack pattern. As part of the transfer project, some modifications and software changes were also made to the system.
The most recent project completed by Cimcorp at Aachen involved extensive retrofitting of the final finishing area buffer for PCR tires. This system features six MBR700 gantry robots for the sorting of tires arriving from the visual inspection area – after the curing process – and going to the uniformity measuring machines. Again, the system is controlled by Cimcorp’s WCS (Warehouse Control System), which takes care of the material flows and storage, ensuring that product tracking and FIFO are maintained. Robots pick the tires, sort them and stack them by type on the floor. When batches are ready for measuring, the robots transfer them to the uniformity measuring process. The retrofit project was implemented during the factory’s two-week Christmas shutdown in 2012-13. The gantries were replaced with lighter, more robust versions. The grippers were replaced with faster, servo models. The rack and pinion drives were replaced by belt drives and some software changes were also implemented to make the robot movements smoother.
According to Dietmar Jobes, Maintenance Manager at Aachen factory, as a result of the retrofit the availability of the buffer system has increased significantly, now reaching 99.5%. “Most of the time we work without any failures, 24 hours a day – that’s a great result! At the same time, maintenance costs have been reduced dramatically – to half or even less than half of the previous costs.”
Read more about the projects in Cimcorp’s online magazine>>
The retrofit project was implemented during the factory’s two-week Christmas shutdown in 2012-13