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Reducing Waste, Increasing Uptime for a Tire Manufacturer

A subtle problem was causing substantial material waste, scrap and factory downtime for a major tire manufacturer. Though the issue caused significant frustration and financial loss, no solution presented itself … until RFID came to the rescue.

RFID for a Tire ManufacturerAt the manufacturing plant, tire floors are formed by extruding hot rubber through an eight- or nine-piece mold, which is custom assembled for each pattern. Mold assembly is a manual process; upon completion, the molds are automatically conveyed to an extrusion machine, where the forming process occurs.

Unfortunately, many mold pieces look similar – and often fit together perfectly, even if they are not correct . The result was that operators sometimes assembled molds incorrectly. If such a mold is put into production, it can take minutes before the problem is detected – at which time the production process must be halted, and the mold removed from the machine, disassembled, reassembled and replaced. Each small error caused significant amounts of raw material waste and machine downtime.

Vizinex RFID to the Rescue

After investigating a number of ineffective options for halting the waste, the manufacturer turned to an RFID-based solution provided by USA Automation, a Vizinex partner. USA Automation tagged each mold piece with a Vizinex RFID tag designed to survive the high temperatures inherent to the demanding application. Four fixed RFID reader antennae (tied to an Element ID UA-1400 reader) were positioned at the mold assembly workstation. This system reliably and automatically detected the presence of each mold piece – before the start of assembly.

USA Automation then developed software that empowers operators to call up detailed information on the necessary mold, including a list of pieces needed to complete the assembly. The RFID system uniquely identifies each mold piece, allowing the operator to easily select the elements needed. Post-assembly, it takes only seconds to validate that the mold has been properly constructed, and it can be passed along to the extrusion machine with confidence.

The result? Raw material waste, scrap and machine downtime have been significantly reduced – resulting in speedy, substantial ROI.

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