Tires being transported between the curing presses and the staging area before their final inspection often become clustered together. This jam up can cause imperfections to the tires and damage to the conveyors. To alleviate this problem, some tire manufacturers have installed vision systems on their conveyors to provide visual feedback to their production and quality teams, and alert them when the tires start to get too close together.
A vision system can show you alerts back in your HMI by using inputs and outputs built into the camera or use an IO-Link port on the camera to attach a visual display, for example a SmartLight with audible and flashing alerts enabled. Once you see these alerts, the PLC can easily fix the issue from the program or a maintenance worker or engineer can quickly respond to the alert.
Widespread use of smart vision cameras with various pixel options has become a trend in tire manufacturing. In additional to giving an early alert to bunching problems, vision systems can also capture pictures and data to verify that tires were cleared all the way into final inspection. Although tire machine builders are being asked to incorporate vision systems into their machines during the integration process, it is more likely for systems to be added in plants at the application level.
Vision systems can improve production throughput, quality issues and record production data about the process for analytics and analysis down the road. Remember a tire plant usually consists of these processes in their own large section of the plant and involves many machines in each section:
- Tire Prep
- Tire Build
- Final Inspection
Each one of these process areas in a plant can benefit from the addition of vision systems. Here are a few examples:
- Mixing areas can use cameras as they mill rubber and detect when rubber sheets are off the rollers and to look for engraved information embedded in the rubber material for logistics and material flow to the proper processes.
- Tire Prep can use cameras to ensure all the different strand colors of steel cords are embedded or painted on the rubber plies before going to tire build process.
- Tire Build can use vision to detect the side-wall beads are facing the right direction and reading the embedded position arrows on the beads before tire plies are wrapped around them.
- Curing area can use vision to monitor tire clusters on conveyors and make sure they are not too close to each other by using the measuring tool in the camera software.
- Final Inspection can use vision to read barcodes, QR codes, detect colors of embossed or engraved serial numbers, detect different color markings and shape of the markings on the tire.
The use of machine vision systems can decrease quality issues by pinpointing errors before they make it through the entire production process without detection.