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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.
In addition, Güdel Group required that a bar-coded serial number be printed at the top of the label for situations in which the use of RFID would not be possible. "We deliver preprinted and preprogrammed labels with bar codes and the Güdel logo in red," Linti explains. "To protect the label in washing processes and against scratching, we provide the label with a clear coating [lamination]."
A tire factory is a uniquely challenging environment for RFID tags, due to the dirt and vapors that can be found around the tires. These pollutants would affect the ability to scan a bar code, Linti says. "In a dirty environment," he states, "we also expect [RFID to provide] a more stable reading process over a long time, as the bar code might be contaminated over time with pollutants in the vapors from the curing process."Rockwell Automation readers to capture data encoded to the trays' tags—interfaces with the PLC and the user's own manufacturing and management software.
Readers are installed in two places, Güdel says: on the device running the AS/RS system—specifically on the Z-axis carriage close to a telescopic fork—and at the station where the tire is placed into the tray.
First, a new tire is associated with a tray's tag ID number. The station's Rockwell Automation reader interrogates the tag, and users can input any necessary data regarding that tire, including its product number, size and style. This information is then linked to a time and date stamp and written to the tray's tag.
"Using RFID technology on the trays, each tire can be identified, including all needed production data," Güdel says. So when the tire is moved through the manufacturing process and then to the AS/RS area, the tray passes the reader mounted at the curing area's entrance, thereby cross-checking tire type and the conditions under which that tire has been stored.
The company can access that information for historical purposes, to confirm not only what processes the tire went through and when, but also the tray, thereby confirming each time it is used. That usage data can also enable the tire manufacturer to track how often the tray has been used and, therefore, when it may be due for replacement, cleaning or maintenance.
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