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Tire Manufacturing: How to make digitalisation work

Dr. Urban Siller
Posted by Dr. Urban Siller on Aug 11, 2020 8:29:25 AM

Digitalisation is ubiquitous and is transforming manufacturing processes. But as for any other industrial investment: Improvements must be measurable. Digitalisation done right, can sustainably improve production Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in tire manufacturing.

Why do workshop-type operations still rely on barcodes, scanners, paper and pencil? 

Digitalisation in production started with Programmable Logical Controllers (PLC’s) in 1969 and continued to increase the degree of automation ever since. The advantages of PLC’s over Connection Programmed Controllers (CPC’s) were so obvious that the investment into this modern technology seemed logical. Over time CPC’s got almost fully replaced by PLC’s.

Digitalisation or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) aims to replace barcodes and scanners as well as paper and pencil in manufacturing by making assets smart and connecting them to production control software. In short, the aim of IIoT is like the PLC revolution. So why is it that workshop-type operations still rely on barcodes and scanners and even paper and pencil more than 20 years after the announcement of the IIoT by Kevin Ashton in 1999?

The answer is simple:

Most IIoT approaches never delivered measurable improvements of production KPIs (if you want to learn more, have a look here: How to increase tire output with IIoT)

At the same time, they suffered from low blue-collar user acceptance with simultaneously high monetary cost and engineering hours. The result of such an “investment” is easily predictable: After a long period of continuous frustration, management decides to give up on the project and reverts to status quo.

In order to reduce production cost in tire manufacturing, any IIoT-based solution must help to increase machine utilization, reduce scrap of raw materials, eliminate production errors of the final product and increase labour productivity.

IIoT-based solutions generate running cost, require maintenance, and sometimes user training. If the IIoT solution suffers from availability issues, is not user-friendly and easy to use by production personnel, doesn’t handle exceptions well and generates too many process deviations, users are going to bypass it and revert to existing processes such as barcodes and scanners or paper and pencil. In this case the IIoT solution makes production KPIs look worse as it only costs additional money and doesn’t deliver any KPI improvements at all.

Consequently, the approach to ask the IT department to “pick some hardware, program a few lines of code” and hand this custom “IIoT-solution” over to operations is certainly going to fail. Unfortunately, this approach is reality still too often.

Why choosing an off-the-shelf-solution is the way forward

The way forward is to choose an off-the-shelf IIoT solution, which is tailored to the needs of tire manufacturing from hard- and software design as well as IT and user interfaces. The chosen solution must be low in running cost, maintenance effort and ideally doesn’t require any training for blue-collar personnel at all.

Asset Agent is our off-the-shelf IIoT solution. Learn more about how Asset Agent works: to the blog post


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