OEM Helps Tire Manufacturers Reduce Maintenance Woes

OEM Helps Tire Manufacturers Reduce Maintenance

Use of modular wiring components and On-Machine solutions helps tire machine OEM accelerate equipment assembly time, cut wiring time by 20%, and slash equipment footprint by 25%.

Use of modular wiring components and On-Machine solutions helps tire machine OEM accelerate equipment assembly time, cut wiring time by 20%, and slash equipment footprint by 25%.

As a contributor to the more than 1 billion tires manufactured annually, RRR Development, North Canton, Ohio, is the only U.S. manufacturer of passenger car, light-truck and industrial tire assembly machines. It designs and builds single, multi-stage and specialty tire machines for 34 tire plants worldwide.

To keep them and their end users on the road to success, the OEM continually invests in new technologies. With the help of On-Machine™ control solutions and a modular wiring technique, RRR designed a new machine that shaved nearly five days in build time, speeding time to market, and easing end user’s installation, operational and maintenance activities.

To improve build time, the RRR Development engineering staff researched various wiring methods that could help them assemble, disassemble and install their machinery faster.

“After conducting our research, we designed a system with a distributed I/O architecture,” says Robert D. Irwin, vice president, RRR Development.

“The money we saved in the reduction of the main control panel size quickly dissipated when we added several remote junction boxes housing the distributed I/O modules. The boxes simply took up too much real estate around our machine. As a result, the savings we anticipated with the system did not materialize,” he adds.

Because RRR engineers knew the general concept of a distributed I/O architecture was sound, they asked Rockwell Automation to help them implement their idea.

“We explained our design goal, which was to apply a modular wiring technique that did not require a PLC network, additional hardware or training,” says Irwin.

Control System Solution

To incorporate its new wiring technique, the OEM designed the RRR First-Stage Tire Building Machine (TBM). The machine is used at the heart of a tire manufacturing process where all materials come together to be wrapped into a barrel shape. After the first stage is complete, the machine then applies the steel belts and treads to a second-stage product, helping form the classic tire shape. It can produce multiple tire styles, including agricultural, passenger, light-truck and motorcycle tires — a feat normally requiring three different machines.

To handle synchronization of the machine’s movements, the TBM is equipped with an Allen-Bradley® ControlLogix® programmable automation controller (PAC), Kinetix® 6000 servo drive and MP-Series Low Inertia (MPL) servo motors from Rockwell Automation. The PAC handles the machine’s sequential and motion control movements, eliminating the need for a separate motion controller and associated wiring for each function.

The integrated servo drive helps enable fast acceleration and deceleration of the machine, and produces torque up to 250% of continuous rated current. This high-peak current helps downsize the drive power supply and axis modules, and reduce the required panel space. This control solution also integrates seamlessly with third-party pneumatic valves on EtherNet/IPTM.

Key to the machine’s successful design was streamlining the wiring. “We really wanted to reduce the amount of time and labor that went into a simple junction box,” explains Irwin.

Engineers typically design machines and control cabinets as separate units, which requires massive amounts of wiring and labor to interconnect the two. “The wiring for a complex machine like this involves 17 unique steps,” says Irwin.

To augment the wiring savings it achieved by using a single control platform, RRR selected compact, distributed I/O components from Rockwell Automation that could be placed directly on their machine. This included the Allen-Bradley 1667 PanelConnect™ module, 898 distribution blocks and system cables that connect all of the I/O directly to the controller. By using convenient, prebuilt cables and connectors, panel assemblers connect field devices to the PAC without DIN rails or terminal blocks — all while maintaining environmental integrity of the panel enclosure.

Simplified Steps

On average, it takes 16 to 20 weeks to manufacture and factory test a machine prior to shipment. With Rockwell Automation On-Machine wiring, RRR reduced its wiring process from 17 steps, to six steps — helping cut build time by nearly an entire week.

The On-Machine wiring system not only helps RRR reduce build time, but also the customer’s risk. The plug-and-play wiring systems minimize wiring errors because there are fewer points of failure.

“If we do find a maintenance problem, it is now much easier to fix,” explains Irwin. “A complete wire swap used to take up to an hour to complete. Now, addressing a problem takes less than a minute, significantly reducing the potential impact on our customer’s production schedule.”

“We can get machines up and running in a fraction of the time,” he adds. “At our last installation, we had the machine reconnected and up in 2 hours, a task that could previously consume up to one and a half days.”

The new system also frees floor space. “By reducing the amount of wiring and using compact, preconfigured modules, instead of bulky terminal blocks, our customers have much smaller machine panels,” notes Irwin. “We’re seeing more than 25% space savings with our new distributed I/O architecture.”

On-Machine controls also provide end users with improved troubleshooting and control system reliability. The PAC collects diagnostics from the field devices and alerts the operator to faults via the machine’s human-machine interface terminal.

“In the past, end users needed to sort through a complex panel of terminal blocks and wiring connections. Now, operators can look at the LED lights on the distribution block for each I/O circuit open mounted on the machine assembly instead of opening a junction box and needing a meter to troubleshoot a problem. This open visibility helps to quickly bring our machines back on line, helping our customers to maintain even higher production and profit levels.”

With its new control system architecture, RRR is now more quickly building its high-performance machines that will help tire manufacturers maintain a position in the fast lane.


Lean more about Rockwell Automation On-Machine solutions.

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