So you’re considering replacing a manual tire tread label application process with automation? Great!- but where do you start? It might sound elementary, but Computype’s global service team recommends starting at the very beginning, that is- with an on-site audit.
When it comes to the design, flexibility, and integration of tire tread label automation to your existing manufacturing lines, efficiency and accuracy are of the utmost importance. To ensure a seamless process that improves data communication requires a dedicated and experienced partner that fully understands your current challenges and associated goals.
Below are the 8-steps of service that Computype employs for customers interested in our Chromaffix tread labeling automation systems. Beyond working with Computype though, this list can be kept on hand for reference not only for selecting an automation or integration partner, but for the assurance that your investment has been fully vetted and planned for. Read on, and not only will you know exactly what to expect throughout the implementation process, but you’ll also be applying tread labels better and faster in no time!
8 steps of service to ensure efficient and accurate tire tread label automation integration
- On-site audit
- Tire tread label planning and expertise
- Detailed specifications and factory acceptance testing
- Installation and commissioning
- Pre-scheduled, on-site maintenance
- Local engineering resources
- Remote IT and technical support
- Dedicated global customer service
1. On-Site Audit
You know your business goals and manufacturing processes better than anyone, but at the same time, a fresh set of eyes can be really helpful in identifying opportunities for improvement. Before any on-site audit is planned, Computype assigns a dedicated project manager to facilitate your automation project, and act as your single point of contact.
It is critical that your automation partner offer up their time to visit your site & walk through your production facility to get a sense for the current labeling process, identify any associated challenges, and obtain a solid understanding of exactly what you're hoping to accomplish with the investment of automated tread labeling. This is time well spent, and allows for collaboration, understanding, and ensures both parties are on the same page as it relates to expectations and deliverables.
When working with Computype, you can expect to meet with experts from our engineering team, and for the audit to take at least a full business day. Our team works through a comprehensive checklist to make sure we fully understand your processes. To view a sample of our on-site audit checklist, click here. A few of the more important things that are on the list to review during our on-site audit include:
- The volume of tires currently being sorted, manufactured, distributed, or stored on a daily and/or annual basis, plus any future growth goals or expectations.
- Goals and challenges related to throughput. Installing an automated tire tread labeling system should dramatically improve your current throughput, but current metrics need to be properly understood to ensure that a system can maintain pace with your existing workflow speeds.
- Regulations related to the label itself. It may be the case that the reason you’re even exploring automated tire tread labeling in the first place is a result of label legislation. Depending on your location, your labels may require information like fuel consumption, wet grip, and noise classification to be communicated via the tread label. It is important to discuss upfront what your current labeling strategy entails, and any changes you’re aiming to achieve with your updated automation strategy.
- Label size. This is important as not all label sizes and constructions are created equal. These factors directly impact the effectiveness and efficiency at which an automated tire tread labeling system will function, so understanding these details early on in the planning process will help both parties plan accordingly in terms of budget, scope, and project expectation.
- Where an automated tire tread labeling system will actually sit in your facility. Sounds silly, but totally isn’t. While compact, an automation system does take up physical space. Furthermore, if the goal is to integrate, we’ll also need to consider at what point in your process it makes the most sense to incorporate labeling.
- Relation of your facility to others. If you’re one of many tire manufacturing plants within a global brand for example, we may need to involve gate keepers and decision makers from a corporate level in our efforts to improve your labeling efficiencies. The sooner we understand who needs to be involved in our goal setting strategy, the tighter we can plan for the project as a whole.
Following discussion of these considerations and your on-site audit should be a formal proposal, where your automation partner both outlines the findings and proposes options for a go-forward plan. Within this proposal should be a budgetary estimate that includes any cost savings that will result from your investment. It is from this proposal that both parties aim to make revisions and better define the intended project outcome.
2. Tire Tread Label Planning & Expertise
As elementary as it may sound, ensuring the labels themselves are designed to work in conjunction with the label applicator is no easy feat. Specifically, the material & liner formulations and the label size are two key factors in determining the achievable effectiveness the throughput levels of automatic tread label application.
To put this concept into perspective, think of a system that prints and applies labels to a tire every 2.5 seconds. If the label is a few inches longer, that has a direct impact on cycle time. If the unit is printing and applying labels at a rate of 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, adding even ¼ of a second to that cycle time will have a large impact on how many tires are able to be processed. The release liner on which the label resides prior to application is also critical, as the label needs to easily peel for proper and efficient application to the tire.
Achieving the proper label formulation and adhesive to meet the needs of both your application and integration with the applicator itself takes engineering and expertise that should not be entrusted to multiple suppliers. Make sure that a single supplier can provide you with both the equipment and consumables to avoid any potential hang-ups later.
Check out our article: 5 Reasons to Form a Partnership Rather Than Simply Sourcing Labels From a Supplier
At Computype, the discussion around automation-friendly tread labels happens as part of the on-site audit, and any necessary changes to the construction of your tread label will be included for discussion in the project proposal.
3. Detailed Specification and Factory Acceptance Testing
As you can imagine, after an on-site audit comes a slew of questions from both parties as it relates to details. Especially if there are customizations to the system (which there almost always are), how an automated labeler is actually going to work in conjunction with the rest of your process requires a lot of thought and planning. Detailed specifications are determined and mutually agreed upon based on the on-site audit, revisions to the proposal, and other conversations as it relates to data connectivity and software had along the way.
Additionally, Computype facilitates the simulation of your actual environment as closely as possible to perform Factory Acceptance Testing; that is, making sure the system meets all predetermined expectations and requirements prior to installation and commissioning.
4. Installation and Commissioning
The partnership with your automation supplier shouldn’t end after the purchase order is sent. Your service partner should provide a clear project implementation timeline that includes things like design time, shipping plans, and operator training. Your service partner should plan to be on-site at your location the day the equipment arrives to help unpack and inspect the system to ensure no damage occurred during transit.
Having a team to get the unit fine-tuned and adjusted with the right settings for your process is important on day 1. From there, collaborative installation and on-site training should take place, with the priority being an efficient and complete integration. Pending no issues, installation should be complete within a few business days, and you should be up and running with your new and improved process very quickly.
When working with Computype, you can expect our team to be on-site for several days, helping with the installation, and commissioning of the system. Ensuring that the unit is properly assembled and that all the settings are adjusted accordingly to details outlined as a result of the factory acceptance testing is critical to ensure speedy utilization. Once the system is up and running, our engineering team spends time training the production staff, operations team, and maintenance folks.
5. Pre-scheduled, On-Site Maintenance
Because you’ll be relying heavily on the label automation system, any downtime that may occur needs to be minimal. Since your team will have had basic training, any minor glitches can likely be taken care of in-house, however, choosing an automation partner that provides planned on-site hygiene visits to ensure system functionality can save timely and costly downtime- especially in manufacturing environments where the machine itself might be in constant operation.
Knowing your service partner will be there to perform routine checks will help to keep your systems running optimally, in addition to extending the life of both the component parts, and the unit itself- ultimately maximizing the value of your investment. As part of your customized service contract, you can expect Computype field technicians to schedule 3-4 on-site preventive maintenance visits per year.
Every so often, parts will need to be replaced; especially if you’ll be relying on your label automation to run at high throughput speeds shift after shift. Print heads for example, will ware over time and will need to be replaced to ensure optimal print output and label resolution. Combined with regular hygiene visits, scheduling maintenance in advance (every 3-6 months for example) will reduce the chances of unexpected downtime.
6. Local Engineering Resources
In the rare event that an unexpected problem should arise, it’s critical that support is nearby. Ensure that your label automation partner can offer local expertise and service support to reduce downtime. Even if your internal engineering team is on the case, having a partner to rely on that resides in the same time zone or region can be of the utmost help. Not losing days waiting for help to fly in from across the world can save incredible amounts of time, money, and brand reputation.
When working with Computype, you can expect local resources. Global third party partners help us to support tread labeling automation systems, regardless of location. To date, we can locally service North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.
7. Remote IT and Technical Support
Ensuring a system that can be securely accessed from anywhere in the world is also a handy thing to consider when selecting an automation partner. This service feature allows for remote support should there be a technical issue with software or middleware. Make sure you fully understand all the ways your tread label automation system can be technically supported before you contract with a service partner.
Computype’s remote IT support is sourced by our internal team of software engineers, and can help to quickly pinpoint and remedy any issues associated to the PLC system (which runs the motors and sensors), and the HMI application, which can be the source of issues related to data, communication, or scan responses.
8. Dedicated Global Customer Service
Partnering with a tread label automation partner that speaks your language, genuinely cares about you, and understands how every label impacts your process should be your ultimate goal. Don’t be so quick to source from less qualified suppliers in the spirit of saving a small amount of budget. Your partner should be just that: a partner. They should provide guidance, expertise, concern, and above all else, a fair and equitable label automation solution that you can trust.
So there you have it. Our 8-steps of service to ensure that your decision process be as informed and comprehensive as possible when consider tread label automation.
Collaborating to provide efficient and accurate labeling automation systems is one of our specialties here at Computype. We’re proud of our Chromaffix tread label automation system that combines automation equipment, consumables, and unparalleled service. If you're interested in learning more, seeing a sample proposal, or speaking to one of our experts, click here!