Bridgestone EMEA is injecting EUR 36 million into its eight European plants, including the one in Hungary, transforming them into smart factories, the EMEA business of the world’s largest tire and rubber company has announced. In the company’s Hungarian factory in Tatabánya, west of Budapest, where tire production is already digitalized, the entire manufacturing process is to be transformed in the coming period. Bridgestone expects the new technologies to allow energy savings of about 10% with the same headcount and to boost annual tire production to 7.2 million units by 2021.
As portfolio.hu reports, more than 60% of Bridgestone’s tire production capacity in Tatabánya are already digitalized. This EUR 36 million investment comes following the success of Bridgestone’s earlier initiatives to digitize the tire production process, such as the use of EXAMATION. EXAMATION is Bridgestone’s AI-based, high-productivity manufacturing technology, which measures and checks the quality parameters of tires at 480 points - collecting 700 MB of data per tire (4 TB per day). The digital machines used apply algorithms that check the quality parameters of the tires produced to improve the evenness of quality by 15%. They can produce twice as many tires, 6,000 a day, than their traditional counterparts.
The digitalization of the plants will enable the data from tire production to be stored, analyzed and used by Bridgestone engineers in both Rome and Tokyo, to help design new and improved tire models. Those new tire model designs will be returned to the plant in a digital format, which will cut the production time of the first series of the new tires in half.
Digitalization will also play a major role in improving Bridgestone’s production efficiency by enabling the smart maintenance of the plants’ facilities. Artificial intelligence will be used to analyze data and forecast potential faults in machinery. The system will measure and analyze key parameters of the machinery with the help of sensors, and automatically suggest maintenance to avoid costly malfunctions. This new process will also help to optimize the planning of maintenance cycles. The smart factory investment will also help to reduce the waste produced by Bridgestone EMEA across Europe. A stream of data on the production performance will be sent to a cloud-based database, where a purpose-built algorithm will look for connections between the production parameters and the features of the manufactured tires. The results will be automatically forwarded to the on-site teams, who can then immediately take action and significantly reduce the number of production rejects.