In a recent interview with ERJ, Jordan Reynolds of Rockwell Automation company Kalypso presented a four-point vision for an AI-enabled tire factory of the future:
- Tire factories are going to be meticulously focused on gathering data, for every parameter at every stage of production.
- They are going to use that data to model their processes as accurately as possible and use that data to build highly realistic models of how the processes operate under different conditions.
- Tire manufacturers are going to use those models to better control their processes in real-time, so that the model tells them what to do on which setpoint, for which component of which machine – rather than them having to figure this out on their own or control it manually.
- After using these models to better control the process, tire makers are going to get greater levels of control & automation, less and less disruption and downtime, and ultimately, greater production yields.
Overall, Reynolds forecast, these steps will lead to less human intervention, so that “people focus more & more on strategic tasks, such as making sure that there’s material available for every product and making sure they are producing the right things at the right time.”
Moreover, he said, these new levels of control will enable tire factories to become more precise in terms of serving the market and so become smaller and more localised.
Tire plants today have to leverage economies-of-scale, especially with labour, so having one giant tire factory, as opposed to having 10 small factories, it’s much more labour efficient, said Reynolds.
“If you can do more without people, by having more autonomous control over a process that would enable you to have 10 smaller, regionally located plants, as opposed to one giant plant to serve an entire country or region.”
There’s also a capital component, he added, as many large expensive machines tend not to be fully utilised, unless you have a larger plant.
“There are certainly things being done with how tires and the components are made towards getting rid of that capital issue and allowing things to be smaller,” said Reynolds.
“Again, if tire production shifts more towards software-enabled, digital capabilities, then the economics of having small, mutually located plants become more attractive.”
From: European Rubber Journal
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