Are you relying on a manual tread label application? Wondering what it would look like to upgrade to an automated solution? Making the switch to tread label automation can be very beneficial, however, like any change, it requires careful consideration and preparation. Below, our team of automation integration engineers have put together a list of five questions you need to ask if considering tread label automation.
Continue reading to learn how to answer these questions in your own terms, and decide if label automation is the right move for you.
- How will adding label automation change my existing processes?
- How will label automation affect my rate of production?
- How will label automation affect overall quality?
- How will label automation affect my budget?
- How will label automation affect space in my facility?
1. How will adding label automation change my existing processes?
Automated bead label applicators or tread label application systems are often implemented with the intent of greatly reducing or even fully replacing manual labor. With the addition of a system though shouldn’t also come the addition of a process. A proper integration plan that considers things like existing workflow speeds, throughput goals, data connectivity and communication, and system connectivity is paramount to ensuring that label automation doesn’t simply replace one process with another and can ultimately reduce the number of independent processes.
Further, it is likely that there will be a short term transition plan when taking your labeling process from manual to automated. Maybe you’ll decide to handle the full-changeover in stepped phases, or will reallocate only certain shifts of workstations initially. However your organization determines is the best approach to amend the existing labeling process, just be sure to plan for a transition period.
The labels themselves may also need to be reconsidered, as not all tread labels are automation-friendly. The construction, size, and adhesive are all critical elements in determining how a label will function within automation. Take this potential process-change as an opportunity to review/modify information on the label, edit colors or branding, and optimize label size for potential cost savings. When sourcing both the labels and automation through a single supplier, these changes are made easier as your partner will be able to guide you through this process.
Most importantly though, your process is going to change for the better. Label automation typically results in throughput speeds more than 3x as fast as manual labeling would. Beyond that, branding is improved as labels are more accurately and consistently printed & applied. Cost savings come from less inventory to manage, reduced headcount &/or wages, less wasted product, and less rework. It will be a project to incorporate label automaton into your process, but both the short and long term benefits far outweigh any immediate challenges.
2. How will label automation affect my rate of production?
At what speeds will labels be applied to tires? How does bead label data communicate with your systems to create tread labels? Is the labeling process integrated with your manufacturing line? What are your process improvement goals?
Partnering with a trusted advisor ensures these questions will be asked prior to investing in a label solution. Thinking through the labeling strategy on a bigger scale and in relation to the rest of your manufacturing processes is what will ensure an optimized solution that extends beyond basic labeling to provide improved efficiencies. Let's take a minute to review each of those questions mentioned above:
- At what speeds will labels be applied to tires?
As we discussed above, there are several factors that need to be considered when calculating the rate at which labels can be automatically applied to tires. Things like label size, material formulation, and adhesive will all have an effect on the overall performance. Beyond that, the speed at which tires are moving on the conveyor belt, and how close they are to each other in proximity will also need to be factored. Bottom line: labels applied via automation will have a positive impact on throughput and will no doubt be applied to tires at faster rates as compared to manual. The Chromaffix system can effectively apply labels at rates of 2.5 seconds per tire, which is more than 3x faster than manual application.
- How does the bead label data communicate with your system to create tread labels?
To full leverage the benefits of an automated tire tread labeling system you first need to ensure that you’re leveraging barcode bead labels for WIP tire tracking. From a efficiency improvement standpoint, pulling the tracking number and associated tire make and model information from the existing bead label to automatically generate a tread label means a streamlined, hands-off process. A verification scan after the fact to ensure accurate and aligned information on both labels also means that efficiencies are improved as there are fewer errors and waste. Software ties these two labeling systems together to fully leverage each process and avoid the need to store repetitive data.
- Is the labeling process integrated with your manufacturing line?
The decision to integrate an automated tire tread labeling system into your existing manufacturing workflow will be dependent on your process and at what point a tread label is needed. Chromaffix was built to be flexible and has successfully been installed at many points of both the manufacturing and distribution processes. Tread automation can be incorporated at whichever point that makes the most sense for your process and efficiency goals.
- What are your process improvement goals?
This question is best when discussed upfront with your preferred label solutions supplier, typically during an on-site audit. When all parties fully understand any current challenges related to throughput or efficiencies, its helpful in creating a plan to remedy them through implementation of label automation. Factors like shift changes, personnel, label placement accuracy, throughput speeds, etc. should be addressed early on the in the planning process.
3. How will label automation affect overall quality?
It comes with no surprise that any manual process or task that can be replaced with an automated system will increase accuracy and consistency. Label placement tolerance will be more accurate, throughput more consistent, and as a result, planning and forecasting improved.
Beyond the basic improvement to labeling as a result of automation though, are other tangible quality benefits including brand image, and accurate variable data as a result of improved communications between the bead label and the tread label system. When every tire can be easily identified and accounted for, the overall quality associated with the manufacturing line is improved.
4. How will label automation affect my budget?
Especially when it relates to adopting label strategies as a result of legislation, considering a label automation system can be justifiable from a cost savings standpoint. Reducing or eliminating costs associated with onboarding, labor, and lability whilst at the same time improving accuracy and efficiencies can prove to provide ROI in less than a years time in some cases.
Beyond the immediate business case, there is also the future of your facility to consider, and how your manufacturing lines will evolve to remain both lean and competitive. Future proofing your processes through implementation of automation helps lay the groundwork for Industry 4.0. Reducing rework and scrap as a result of human error is also a consideration to factor when thinking through a labeling automation strategy.
5. How will label automation affect space in my facility?
It's no secret that most tire manufacturing facilities and distribution centers are challenged as it relates to real estate. Consider space when thinking through your label automation strategy. Although most automation systems can be quite compact, they do require floor space in your facility. With this in mind, we've developed our Chromaffix Solution, an automated tread labeling system that can be integrated directly into your existing conveyor lines. Our solution begins with a survey of your site to help us understand your space constraints and existing line layout in order to ensure that automation is suitable for your needs.
Interested in taking a peek at our On-site survey checklist? Here you’ll find even more considerations to think through prior to investing in tread label automation. This is exactly the document that our field engineering team uses when planning for Chromaffix.
In a nutshell, replacing a manual labeling process with that of automation is sure to improve efficiencies, accuracy, and quality within your facility. Contact our dedicated tire label automation team today and start learning what kind of impact you could see!