Looking to the future: A plant without pallets
The top 20 tire producers manufacture a combined 1.5 billion units a year. This means a lot of space, time and manpower is dedicated to the storage, movement and delivery of each tire. Due to the evolution of the latest in digital technology, this is an area of the industry ready for a complete overhaul, and where tire manufacturers have the opportunity to make significant savings.
Historically tire movement and storage has almost always been carried out by utilizing pallets, but in the modern world of digital technology and intelligent warehousing systems, palletising is seen as inefficient, costly in terms of capital investment and prone to safety hazards – it’s also not so good for the environment.
Pesmel, a 40-year-old company with its headquarters in Finland, has developed a dedicated smart warehousing system for the tire industry that is revolutionising movement and storage of individual units. It is also being proven to save Euros millions on investment in palletising equipment and labour costs in tire plant warehousing.
Starting out in the pulp and paper industry, focusing on wrapping for reels of paper, Pesmel has evolved rapidly as digitization has taken hold and is now a major specialist in the supply of smart warehousing solutions for the global pulp, paper and steel industries – basically where any final product is round. Therefore, the tire industry has become the company’s next natural area of focus.
“We have always specialized in the movement and storage of unusually shaped objects,” says Pesmel CEO, Tony Leikas.“ And our main focus in the last 20 years has been anything that’s round and of course tires are perfect for our latest technology developments.
“The tire industry has generally seen palletisation as the only solution for its warehousing and internal logistics needs, but after looking closely at various plants around the world, and with our successful projects in other industries, it is clear to us at Pesmel that this is an area of the industry that could be much more efficient and run in a much safer and cost effective way.”
A simplified operation for maximum efficiency
Pesmel has spent the last 20 years perfecting smart warehousing solutions and has come up with a unique concept – Material Flow How® – which uses only four components to fully automate internal logistics and storage. The idea behind the concept is to arrange production and material flows so that production efficiency is maximised and the need for equipment minimised. In fact the Material Flow How concept only uses four components: a conveyor system, racking, stacker crane(s) and robots.
For the tire industry, the Material Flow How concept has been implemented into Pesmel’s bespoke designed TransTire AS/RS. The simplified, complete warehousing concept for tire storage includes the four components:
Conveyors: The connecting link used to integrate the system from the production lines and transfer the tires from the manufacturing plant, into storage, and then further on when required for transportation.
Racking: Tires are stored without using pallets bringing efficiency to handling by saving time, space and less equipment. This method of racking also eliminates the chance of damage that often occurs when using pallets.
Stacker Crane: The TransTire stacker crane is an intelligent crane which combines storing and order picking.
Robots TransTire works with robots as a two-machine team by preparing the tires for storage and further for shipping.
Pesmel’s Warehouse Management System (WMS), integrates and controls tire production flows between manufacturing, storing and shipping. The WMS can be fully integrated into the tire plant’s existing network and upper level control systems. The main task for the WMS is to control tire flow and optimise storage and logistical functions, which increases the total capacity of the system and brings down operating costs.
The storage systems are controlled automatically and unmanned by Pesmel’s own computer system, which comes with the necessary number of operator terminals. The WMS also features a wide range of reporting and diagnostical functions, to assist in maximising efficiency even further.
Delivering a fully functional system
Leikas says that millions of Euros could be saved when building a new tire plant by eliminating palletisation completely, “Palletisation equipment is expensive – our research tells us that up to Euro 5 million can be spent on installing the machines which can be simply done away with by using a smart warehousing system. Eliminating palletisation also creates up to 30% more space.”
“Using pallets is also costly when it comes to warehousing operational efficiencies, with extra loading and unloading, bringing pallets in and sending them back again. Palletisation is also labour intensive, often involving manual loading and unloading, and of course there are the dangers presented with forklifts going backwards and forwards in a plant.”
The implementation of TransTire AS/RS starts with Pesmel experts building a simulation model of a customer’s tire plant warehouse analysing the production procedures and potential bottlenecks. The whole concept is then completely in-house engineered with Pesmel taking care of all mechanical, electrical, PLC and ICT engineering. A fully functioning system is then delivered.
By Jouni Räisänen, VP Tires, Pesmel Ltd., Finland; Mark Rushton, Managing Director, Editorial Services Direct Ltd., UK