Revolution in automation technology in tyre manufacturing
The Festo Motion Terminal VTEM, one of the first products of the Industry 4.0 era, combines digitalisation and pneumatics. Quickly activated software apps are revolutionising pneumatics by increasing flexibility and energy efficiency, and accelerating production processes. This also benefits tyre manufacturing, as demonstrated by the use of the automation platform VTEM in tyre moulding presses.
The Festo Motion Terminal VTEM catapults pneumatics into the age of Industry 4.0 – with apps that can replace over 50 individual components. Just as the smartphone turned the mobile communication market on its head a decade ago, so too is the Festo Motion Terminal set to revolutionise automation technology. The new type of function integration – combined with software apps – simplifies the entire value chain, since only one piece of hardware is now required. And thus, the experts view the Festo Motion Terminal VTEM as a revolution in automation technology.
Thanks to the fast activation of new functions via apps, machine developers can create a basic machine type and then, depending on which apps are selected, equip it with different functions and features as per the customer’s requirements. Assigning functions via software has the added benefit of preventing tampering and protecting know-how, since it’s not possible to tell from the outside which functions the valves are executing. Maintenance is also simplified, as long lists of spare and wearing parts will be a thing of the past.
In tire manufacturing, this results in potential savings for loading operations at the curing presses, as the “selectable pressure level” app included with the Festo Motion Terminals ensures gentle loading of the green tire*. The smaller the fluctuations of the handling system during loading, the more the feeding-in speed can be increased. The process for each tire is thus accelerated by several seconds. This doesn’t sound like much at first, but with roughly 1.8 billion car tires produced each year, this can result in considerable sums for each tire manufacturer.
Less pressure = less energy
In practice, it is not just that the loading operations are accelerated, they also require less energy because pressure can be reduced and so compressed air consumption is also decreased. Calculations even reveal compressed air savings of nearly 33% when comparing the movement of the horizontally installed pneumatic cylinder DSBC with standard pneumatics, and of nearly 75% when the same cylinder is installed vertically. Just for controlling the vertical and horizontal cylinders, energy savings of roughly 60% are achieved for these loading and unloading operations.
The “leakage management” app enables predictive maintenance by pinpointing leaks throughout the entire pneumatic control chain including valves, tubing, connectors and drives. The goal is to detect defective components at an early stage before they bring production to a standstill or damage the machine.
Furthermore, the Festo Motion Terminal can seal off the faulty air duct, thus preventing the supply of more and more compressed air in the case of a leak. The innovative automation platform thus prevents unnecessary air consumption.
* In technical jargon, a green tyre is the raw, unprofiled tyre.
Festo is a global player and an independent family-owned company with headquarters in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany. The company supplies pneumatic and electrical automation technology to 300,000 customers of factory and process automation in over 35 industries. The products and services are available in 176 countries. With about 21,000 employees in over 250 branch offices in 61 countries worldwide, Festo achieved a turnover of around €3.07 billion in 2019. Each year around 8% of this turnover is invested in research and development.
In this learning company, 1.5% of turnover is invested in basic and further training. Yet training services are not only provided for Festo’s own staff – Festo Didactic SE also supplies basic and further training programmes in the field of automation technology for customers, students and trainees.