Streamlined Wiring Quickens Tire-Assembly-Machine Production
Successful manufacturers never get tired of facing new market challenges. This statement applies to companies across all industries—including those involved in the annual manufacturing of more than 1 billion tires worldwide.
For many years, tire manufacturers across the globe have used RRR Development Co. Inc.’s tire-assembly machines to contribute to this output level. RRR is the only U.S. manufacturer of machines for assembling passenger, light truck, motorcycle and industrial tires. The company’s single, multistage and specialty machines are currently in use in 34 tire plants around the world.
RRR builds these machines at its headquarters in North Canton, OH, and at a manufacturing facility in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The U.S. location also offers full-service fabricating, grinding and panel work to extend equipment wear life.
Exploring and investing in new technologies is a big reason for RRR’s success. A few years ago, for example, company engineers researched various wiring methods that could help them assemble, disassemble and install their machinery faster. In the end, they reached out to Rockwell Automation Inc. for help designing a distributed I/O architecture system with a smaller main control panel.
“Our design goal was to apply a modular wiring technique that did not require a PLC network, additional hardware or training,” explains Robert D. Irwin, vice president of engineering and product sales at RRR. “We need the flexibility to build our machine in stages, as well as the ability to quickly assemble and disassemble it for shipping.”
With Rockwell’s help, RRR developed the First-Stage Tire Building Machine. This machine wraps all tire materials into a barrel shape, before applying the steel belts and treads to form the classic tire shape. Its main benefit is the ability to produce multiple tire styles, including agricultural, passenger, light truck and motorcycle.
Three Rockwell components synchronize all of the machine’s movements: an Allen-Bradley ControlLogix programmable controller, a Kinetix 6000 servo drive and multiple MP-Series low-inertia servomotors. To streamline the machine’s wiring, RRR uses an Allen-Bradley 1667 PanelConnect module and Allen-Bradley 898 distribution blocks, which provide direct connectivity to the controller.
Irwin says that, on average, it takes 16 to 20 weeks to manufacture and test a machine prior to shipment. With the Rockwell wiring design, however, RRR has cut build-time by a week and reduced its wiring installation process from 17 complex steps to six simple ones. The company now designs 30 to 40 complete systems and performs 80 to 100 major system upgrade assemblies per year.
“By reducing build time for our machine by nearly five days, we can produce 10 more machines per year,” says Irwin. “[This] is equivalent to a $2.5 million increase in sales annually.”
RRR’s customers like that the plug-and-play wiring system quickens maintenance and minimizes errors, since there are fewer points of failure. Whereas a complete wire swap out used to take up to an hour to complete, the same task can be completed in just a few minutes. The wiring system also results in machine panels that occupy up to 25 percent less floor space.
“In the past, end users needed to sort through a complex panel of terminal blocks and wiring connections,” notes Irwin. “Now, operators can look at the LED lights on the distribution block for each I/O circuit that’s open-mounted on the machine. This visibility helps customers quickly bring our machines back on line [for] higher production and profit levels.”
For more information on controllers, distribution blocks and other machine control components, call 440-646-3434 or visit www.rockwellautomation.com.