Over the last few months, we have been working with one of the leading tyre manufacturers in India. It’s been more than 150 years since Charles Goodyear patented vulcanisation and that set off a boom in tyre manufacturing. Today, 1 billion tyres are manufactured worldwide every year. The process of manufacturing tyres is fairly standard and improvements are made to technology every year. There is a perception that manufacturing is all robotic and everything is automated. However, any decently big manufacturing plant employs thousands of people and communication is often a bottleneck and source of delays and errors.
The executive team would like a daily dashboard of how many tyres were manufactured, how many defectives ones were found, how many tyres were returned. The sales team needs to communicate its targets early enough to the manufacturing unit so that they can provide enough raw materials. The R&D unit needs to publish the latest specs to the manufacturing unit so that the tyres adhere to the quality control standards. The need for a seamless and timely flow of information across teams is critical.
Our work with a leading tyre manufacturer in India was focused on transforming their manufacturing operations through software. The company was already using SAP as their ERP.
However, they continued to deal with problems of heavy data processing and data consolidation. Their usual process included data consolidation in SAP with SCADA integration to measure real-time parameters like thickness, weight, length and temperature of machinery. Nevertheless, it was hard to achieve maximum production efficiency. We needed a way for different teams to access realtime information from all these different applications.
A huge tyre manufacturing unit such as this has a lot of processes and therefore involves a lot of communication. However, it is nearly impossible to eliminate errors if the processes were to be recorded and communicated by workers, supervisors or operators to the executive team. The tyre making process involves a lot of stages starting from production planning to quality testing. While that looks simple, each of these stages involves a lot of data recording, consolidation and communication.
Our first recommendation was to use the product planning web app which acts as a dashboard. This app aims to provide an everyday schedule which helps in a free flow of production planning. Once the unit has decided all about the production plan, decisions such as stock requests for production take place. This is for the right inward and outward movement of raw materials based on plant request. With the required stock, the production process moves to departments such as chemical preparation where semi-finished goods are produced and tyre gripping process that adds strength to the tyres in production.
Each of these processes involves data validation and information capture. Information on parameters such as weight, thickness etc. which is highly significant as the data could give insights to operators and supervisors for decision making and efficient production. Our solution to their huge production data processing was a simple service subscription. We developed applications to suit the needs of each department which is why we delivered the raw materials issue app, the chemical preparation app and the tyre gripping app. When the user smartphones are paired with the Bluetooth enabled machines all data gets saved to a centralized database via android app. This data is then available to Kafka to distribute data as a service. This realtime integration achieved through Kafka connect allows people to correct any erroneous production decision or quickly implement changes required during production. Any change of production specification can be communicated by the team of executives to the respective departments’ supervisors to make required changes in the production process. The executive team also has an overview of the entire process. This allows quick error rectification in the production process and eliminates manual errors as there is direct availability of required data with no human intervention. Integration and use of software or apps in the production processes of huge manufacturing units such as these would definitely be profitable, time-saving and enables easy decision making both in the short and long run. A number of teams seek software integration with their systems to make it less complex and for better production planning in the present and future.