Cimcorp has been gradually extending the scope of its control systems for the tire industry. With its latest module able to control production machines in the raw materials and components area, Cimcorp now provides end-to-end solutions for tire manufacturing plants
Cimcorp has supplied over 500 gantry and linear robots to clients in the tire industry, which between them handle some 1.5 million tires a day at 40 plants worldwide. In fact, seven of the world’s top ten tire manufacturers are Cimcorp customers. They benefit from Cimcorp’s ‘Dream Factory’ automation solutions that optimize material flows, make dynamic use of available space, minimize buffer stocks and feature advanced control systems for precise tracking and full traceability.
Since turning its attention to the tire sector some twenty years ago, Cimcorp has gradually applied its technology to each step of the tire production process, with control systems always an integral part of its solutions. Explains Kai Tuomisaari, the company’s Vice President, Sales and Marketing,
“Control has always been an area of strength for us. During the past couple of decades, we have gathered a huge amount of experience and know-how in the tire industry. We soon realized that there was a need for better, more industry-specific control systems in tire plants and we’ve been responding to that demand ever since.”
Now Cimcorp is turning its attention beyond the scope of its own materials handling automation technologies – gantry robots, automated guided vehicles, electric monorail systems, conveyors and automated storage systems – in order to provide control for production machinery in the raw materials and components area of tire plants. Says Kai Tuomisaari, “We realise it’s a bold step, but we’re actually only responding to the demands of our clients. Originally our control systems were developed purely to run the equipment that we supplied but very often we have found that clients want us to help them to control their production machines in terms of recipe management and In- Process Verification. As a result,” continues Kai Tuomisaari,
“We’ve developed a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) module within our controls platform. By extending our control solution into this initial production stage, we enable complete traceability for tires from raw materials right through to the shipping dock, providing manufacturers with a wealth of relevant information about every single tire.”
So what does Cimcorp’s MES module do? In the raw materials and component processing area, as in all areas of a tire-manufacturing plant, control of the material flow is key. The MES is designed to provide full control through recipe management – including recipe creation, amendment, uploading, archiving and validation – workstation management, material movement management and production simulation. By logging material batches, operators and processing times, the MES provides complete component data management for the tire-building process. It also ensures integration of the process machines with the host system, such as SAP, and In-Process Verification (IPV) to check that the right raw materials, components or products arrive at each processing station. Through realtime inventories, reports and alerts, the MES ensures complete traceability of raw materials and components. With rapid and efficient handling of raw materials and 100% component availability, manufacturers benefit from higher throughput to the tire-building machines.
“What’s more,” adds Kai Tuomisaari, “the enhanced information on raw material requirements and processing allows manufacturers to keep lower stock levels, which in turn require less space and free up capital for other uses. Plus, of course, the MES adds more vital data to the information profile of each individual tire, providing comprehensive tracking and tracing information.”
Less scrap, better yield
The MES works alongside other modules in the Cimcorp controls platform to ensure that all logistics processes in a tire factory are optimized. These other modules include the WMS (Warehouse Management System), MFC (Material Flow Control), VIS (Visualization) and TRAC (Data Tracking). Together, the modules control all automated equipment and take care of key functions such as receiving product from upstream processes, routing of tires, sorting of tires by SKU (Stock-Keeping Unit), palletization, storage and order picking. The overall effect of this continuous process optimization is evident in the factory’s output. Explains Kai Tuomisaari,
“Better control of the whole process means that more high-quality tires are produced. Tracing, combined with smaller buffers and 100% availability of components at all process machines, increases the yield dramatically.”
Throughout the plant, easy-to-use graphical user interfaces assist operators by showing the real- time status of the system, including inventory visibility, giving full control over WIP (Work In Process). Simple error messages allow staff to identify the source of any problem quickly and the software’s diagnostic functionality aids recovery after a failure, with automatic completion of outstanding tasks on system re-start.
TEXT: HEIDI SCOTT PHOTOS: CIMCORP, SHUTTERSTOCK