Tire Industry
Customer Interview
Under the project slogan ‘BIG’ – Believe, Imagine, Go – Tigar Tyres has implemented a major expansion of its Serbian factory, including investment in Cimcorp’s Dream Factory concept for automated material handling.

The additional production capacity at Tigar Tyres’ factory in Pirot, 300km southeast of Belgrade, is now fully operational. Part of the Michelin Group, Tigar Tyres decided to implement an ambitious expansion plan that would enable a 50 per cent increase in annual production capacity, from 8 million to 12 million tires by the end of 2016. Through the specification of state-of-the-art production and handling systems, the company is on track to achieve this.

The Pirot plant manufactures entry-level passenger car and light truck tires that are sold under Michelin’s Tigar, Kormoran, Riken and Taurus brands. The rapid expansion of the entry-level market segment – especially in Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and the CIS countries – prompted the decision to invest in extra capacity at Pirot. The scale of the project was enormous; including the cost of the land, the expansion represented an investment of 215 million euros. A total of 70,000m2 of industrial space was added – including a 40m-high building for the mixing equipment – requiring 90,000 tonnes of concrete flooring and 50km of piping networks. The investment is creating 500 new jobs, bringing the total number of employees to 2700 by the end of 2016.

Intralogistics pioneer

Tigar Tyres commissioned Cimcorp to automate the material flows in the tire-building and curing areas, as well as in the finishing and palletizing area for three production lines.

“As Cimcorp is considered a pioneer in the area of intralogistics automation,” explained Gary Scheide, Plant Director, “it was natural to want to have them as our partner. Cimcorp was already on our radar, in fact, as the company has delivered several robotic systems to the Michelin Group over the years for the storage and palletization of finished truck and bus radial tires in France, Spain, Brazil, Italy and China. Cimcorp’s automation,” continued Mr Scheide, “offered us a complete and efficient solution that would mean quality, speed, flexibility and cost control, thereby helping us reach our production targets and satisfy client demands.”

Tight deadline

As the time period from placing the order with Cimcorp to the first tires being produced was just 13 months, the project was an extremely challenging one. The Cimcorp solution at Pirot is based on its Dream Factory concept and features conveyor, monorail and robotic technologies. Green tires are transferred by conveyor from the building machines to the spraying stations and then to an automatic green tire buffer. This is served by gantry robots, which store the green tires in a single layer on a mezzanine. When specific tires are required by the curing presses, the robots pick them from the buffer and they are transported via monorail to the curing presses.

After curing, Cimcorp’s systems continue to take care of the material flows, with tires being collected from the trench conveyor and placed on the cooling conveyor, and then transferred to the visual inspection area. They then enter the testing buffer and are transferred to the testing machines before proceeding to the labeling area, the palletizing buffer and the palletizing area. Here, the Cimcorp system automatically calculates the optimal palletizing method for each product type and robots arrange the tires in a space-optimized rick-rack pattern.

Full control

The entire material flow – from the mixing machines to the finished tire warehouse – is controlled by Cimcorp’s Warehouse Control Software (WCS), while the tracing of production data, recipe management and reporting are taken care of by Cimcorp’s Manufacturing Execution System (MES), enabling 100 per cent traceability of tires.

TEXT: HEIDI SCOTT PHOTOS: TIGAR, ALEKSANDAR CIRIC

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