Tires tracking and traceability is a primary need for all tire manufacturers as well for Continental Tire, a leader in tire production. In logistics, WIP, quality control and compliance, tires get tracked at every step of production process. Starting with raw materials through tire assembly, to the end-of-line sorting, reading the bar-code on tires is critical.
The need of Continental was very clear since the beginning: to improve the traceability process and hence to achieve the maximum production efficiency through an increase of the reading rate and of the reliability of devices in use.
Continental production ranges in general from 40.000 to 80.000 tire units per day; under this challenging conditions, the throughput of tires tracking systems becomes a crucial aspect and top performance is a must, not a desire. The previously implemented laser technology was not able to guarantee an effective read rate because of the low aspect ratio codes, whose quality degenerates during the manufacturing process: the vulcanization first has the most considerable impact on the quality of the bar-codes, causing shrinking of the practical height and resolution. Also spray treatments over the tire surface reduce the contrast to minimum levels and impact on stable codes readability.
Each no-read item was requiring additional manual handling with a significant impact on production costs. Moreover, laser readers were quickly aging and they were requiring frequent maintenance activities. As a consequence, Continental was looking not only for an identification solution with superior performance, but also stable and predictable operations, since the selected solution had to be replicated in any production plant worldwide.
To accomplish these demanding requirements, Continental has selected STS400: Datalogic Automation Solution for Tires Sorting, based on the powerful MATRIX 410.
First of all STS400 is extremely simple: 100% pre-assembled and calibrated, no focusing, no height barriers and no encoder required. The self-contained mechanical layout makes the integration into constrained spaces quick and easy. In less than one hour, with no special tools or training, the STS400 can go from the shipping carton to reading tires in the production line.
The maximum read rate is always guaranteed by the Datalogic Automation factory validation.
The ease of maintenance is a crucial indicator for Continental and STS400 has actually demonstrated to be unbeatable: a flashing green light indicates the good read at the single device level, so providing an immediate feedback of the reading status without any additional software tools.
Also, the automatic reader replacement function enables a rapid substitution of a faulty reader, simply connecting a new one to the cluster.
Furthermore STS400 features the highest quality standard in reliability: no moving parts, no rotors, no auto-focus system are on board and no complicated accessories, such as height barrier or encoders.
Dr. Siegfried Rainer, Head Manufacturing and Quality Systems of Continental HQ said: "We choose Datalogic Automation because their new omnidirectional reading solution for tire identification provides highest read rates and has the potential to adapt to our future needs."