tire manufacture and the art of innovation

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Tire manufacture and the art of
With global demand for rubber and
tire industry automation exceptionally
strong, 95 percent of the machines
made by one Dutch company are
destined for export.
By Armin Döberl and Ulrich Eckel
Veluwe Machine Industrie (VMI), part
of the TKH Group, develops and
builds tire building machines. In addition to
its subsidiary in the Veluwe region of the
Netherlands, the company has facilities
in Germany, China and the US, as well
as sales offices in Russia and Malaysia.
Worldwide, the company has over 750
The company’s first contacts with the
rubber processing industry date back to
the 1950s. In the early 1970s, a technological breakthrough was made with the
construction of the first single-stage tire
building machine, known as “Maxx”. This
machine enabled the tire tread and carcass
to be assembled into one unit, and allow
tire manufacturers to improve production
quality and speed.
If you stand still, the
market will overtake you
By developing its machines, VMI
became the market leader and invests a
considerable proportion of its turnover in
research and development.
“If you stand still, the market will overtake you”, said sourcing manager Patrick
van der Linde.
“That applies not only to us, but also
to our customers. We are continuously
working on improving our machines so our
customers’ production processes can get
even faster, more economical, and more
The VMI 245-SL is a single-stage tire building machine
Simatic S7 programmable logic controllers for a range of other machines that we
“We deploy this technology, for example, in our can washers for the steel
can industry and in our special-purpose
machines that cool, dry, and stack
rubber. A couple of years ago, a customer
of ours expressed a wish for a tire
building machine of this type equipped
with Siemens technology.”
Making a mark in the market
Siemens Netherlands contributed investment funding through its Application Center
so that it could accompany this development process within VMI.
The machine is controlled by a failsafe
Simatic S7-300F PLC in combination with
powerful Sinamics drives, the modular
Enter Siemens, stage left
Several years ago, VMI had its
best-selling tire building machine – the semi-automatic
VMI 245/248 – automated
by Siemens for the first
time. This represented a
milestone in the collaboration between the two
Van der Linde said: “For
a number of years, Siemens had been supplying
us with industry-proven Sirius
low-voltage control, robust
industrial PCs and efficient
The VMI 248-SL has extended functionality
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now has customers for whom the Siemens
technology is a basic requirement. VMI also
has a “Bead Apex” machine model which
uses this technology. This joins a tire bead
to hard rubber (apex), which is then used in
the VMI 245/248.
Stand or fall
VMI’s reputation depends on the “superior
technical expertise” that it draws principally
from its supplier market. High demands
are made upon these suppliers, and the
company implements a structural check
using its QLTC principle: Quality, Logistic
Performance, Technology and Cost.
Its production facilities around the world
are supplied with high-quality products
that arrive “just in time” (L), in accordance
with the given specifications and quality
requirements (Q). The company also makes
every effort to purchase these products and
services at the most attractive price (C) in
the supply chain.
To implement this, any faults or excessive consumption of resources in this chain
must be identified and cleared. In many
cases, this means that the products and
services have to be bought locally.
Good chimes
VMI’s experiences with Siemens on product
quality and logistics have been good.
“Siemens supplies long-lasting and
reliable technology, taking into account the
Simatic ET200 I/O
system, and energy-saving Simotics servomotors.
This automation,
as part of the
totally integrated
automation (TIA)
concept, accompanies the entire
machine production process.
These coordinated components raise
efficiency levels
and improve the
competitive capability of products
on a sustainable basis.
The machine manufacturer
has since built dozens of
machines using this drive
and control technology.
With a second supplier in the field of
drive and automation technology for tire
building machines, VMI is stronger and
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applicable laws and regulations,” said van
der Linde.
“In the Netherlands, we order the necessary parts through Siemens’ Industry Mall.
We have created a link to our own E-portal
for our suppliers, thus the order data can
be read from our system and into the Industry Mall in one go. This chimes very well
with our concept of lean production; we do
not see why the customer should have to
pay for us entering all the data by hand.
“One further positive aspect is the global
network that Siemens operates. We can
use this to supply our widely distributed
production facilities promptly and with low
delivery charges.”
Staying in front
Several years ago with the “Maxx” series,
VMI brought the first fully automatic tire
building machines onto the market. Recently the company also launched the successor to the VMI 24x series − the “Exxium”.
These two series of machines now offer
a considerably higher production speed,
thanks to a higher degree of automation,
which in turn delivers a higher output of
tires on a daily basis.
Both authors work for Siemens AG in Germany. Armin Döberl is part of the Industrial
Automation Systems unit in Nuremberg.
Ulrich Eckel works in the Motion Control
Systems unit based in Erlangen.
The Simatic S7-300F
programmable logic
controller is suited
to innovative system