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Güdel Group's Tire-Tracking System Gains Traction

The HF RFID solution can be used to monitor tire production, as well as to manage the trays used to transport and store uncured tires.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 01, 2016

Güdel Group manufactures high-precision machine components, automation systems and reusable transport items (RTIs) used by manufacturers in the automotive and tire industries. The Swiss-based company recently began offering an RFID-enabled solution to help companies automate tire manufacturing. The solution features trays fitted with RFID tags provided by Schreiner ProTech.

Prior to being vulcanized, tires are sticky and soft, and are called green. "The stickiness complicates the handling," says Stefan Güdel, the company's tire trays project manager. "Due to its softness, a green tire has to be handled very carefully to avoid any damages and avoid quality issues."

Affixed to each Green Tire Tray is an RFID label printed with a bar-coded ID number and the Güdel logo.
To address this problem, Güdel Group created the Green Tire Tray, an RTI built to transport tires during the production process. The tray, designed so that sticky, green tires can be easily extracted from the trays without damaging them, can accommodate a tire up to 900 millimeters (35.4 inches) in diameter and as heavy as 30 kilograms (66 pounds).

To enable the automation of the manufacturing process, the trays were also fitted with RFID tags. Readers capture each tag's data and forward it to the manufacturer's programmable logic controller (PLC). The PLC can then use this information to prevent damage to the tires, by controlling such variables as how long they can be stored and the amount of soiling they can sustain. Since the solution's release, one of Güdel Group's customers has been using approximately 2,000 of the trays for its production of ultra-high-performance tires. (That company has asked not to be named for this story.)

During the manufacturing process, each green tire is placed on a single tray, on which it then moves throughout the manufacturing process on a conveyor. Typically, a green tire is created out of rubber and textile and steel cords. As soon as all components are assembled together, this half-finished product is moved to the automatic storage and retrieval system (AS/RS)—which stores the green tire for a defined period of time before being cured under pressure and heat.

Stefan Güdel
Each tire is unique to its product type as well, so that tires of certain styles and sizes must be treated differently than others during the manufacturing process. Due to the sensitive nature of green ties, manufacturers typically use manual processes to transport tires from the assembly line to the vulcanization process. Alternatively, Güdel says, they can utilize an automated system designed for increased cleaning and maintenance of the equipment used for handling the tires, though an automated system also increases the risk of damaging a tire or reducing its quality.

Affixed to each tray is a 13.56 MHz Schreiner ProTech high-frequency (HF) passive tag that measures 50 millimeters by 50 millimeters (2 inches by 2 inches) and complies with the ISO 15693 standard, says Frank Linti, Schreiner LogiData's business-development manager for RFID. "The customer needed a label programmed with the project ID and the tray's own unique identifier, and with very strong adhesion and long durability in very harsh conditions," Linti says. The label needed to be resistant against dirt, washing processes and scratching throughout the tray's entire lifetime.

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