Automating Existing Tire Manufacturing Plants
North America tire manufacturers face a conundrum; How to compete globally against new plants in low labor cost regions. Currently established brands can charge higher prices by focusing on the high value market, such as speed rated tires and OE tire replacement. However, this advantage will diminish as foreign competitors improve quality and performance. Building new plants in the USA is one solution and we have seen foreign companies do this, but as a practical matter improving productivity in existing plants will be necessary as time marches on.
It is now accepted automating processes is a well-documented method to reduce costs, improve quality and productivity, doing so in an existing plant places several constraints. When these plants were designed, they relied on manual processes. Adding automated processes often require more space than exists. We are seeing an emergence of several solutions such as AGV’s (autonomous guided vehicles) that can be programmed to use existing aisles or collaborative robots that are designed to work in proximity to the operator without the safety fencing required for a high-speed industrial robot. Improvements in vision system acuity and dexterity of EOAT are also bringing more solutions.
At Pioneer we are at the forefront of these solutions to help our customers solve the productivity problem.