Getting a grip: the role of robotics in car tire manufacturing

On the Road Again: Robotic Gripper Application at a Major Car Tire Manufacturing Plant

FPE Automation’s Andy Button receives recognition for the implementation of custom robotic grippers in the manufacturing plant of a global tire manufacturer.

By Sandia Harrison, Director of Marketing, FPE Automation

Car tires. Where the proverbial “wheels hit the road.” It’s where every journey starts. Or is it? Most of us have never given any thought about the journey every tire makes before it ends up on our car. It turns out that AI-driven robots are revolutionizing the automotive industry, particularly in the domain of car tires, resulting in substantial efficiency gains.

I reached out to Travis Haynes, Senior Application Engineer at PHD Inc. “The customer wanted a three-jaw gripper, as the concept they’ve used before involved a cylinder driving three pivoting arms to retain the tire,” he told me. 

Simulation only: actual drawing not used to
maintain confidentiality.

The goal: To pick and place tires of various sizes by their internal diameter. 

The application: A robotic cell that can detect the tire size from the ID on the tire using machine vision, and automatically grip and lift it. 

The challenge: The difference in tire sizes called for significantly more travel than a standard three-jaw gripper has available

So, Hayes, together with Andy Button, Regional Sales Team Leader at FPE Automation, and with the help of a local integrator, looked at custom solutions. 

“This gripper is the result of adding backing plates to a previous custom design to increase jaw moment capacities.” Hayes described. “It is effectively a customized, three-jaw version of PHD’s popular GRR gripper.” 

FPE Automation’s Andy Buton (R) and me.

The gripper is used as end-of-arm-tooling (EOAT) on a robot, which is part of a production cell. The resulting engineered solution significantly optimizes the process for the tire manufacturer. 

“The standards were set very high for this project.” Button told me, “There was no room for errors or inaccuracy. The PHD custom team made the process seamless. The end result was that the customer has exactly what they wanted. These robot cells will work out very well for them.”

Car Tire Innovation 

We can all expect to see more news in the upcoming months about robotic cells and AI being used for the manufacture of car tires. As manufacturing plants automate, quality increases. So does safety and reliability. The automotive industry has a long history of leading the way when it comes to manufacturing innovation. Typically, it’s not long before other industries follow suit. 

If you would like to know more about how you can use AI and robot cells to streamline your operations, reach out to the experts FPE Automation. We can arrange to take you on a tour of one of our state-of-the-art robotic and vision labs or set up a demo. Or, we can stop by and visit you. We’re local.

A Job Well Done

Congratulations to FPE Automation’s Andy Button, who received accolades in this month’s industry newsletter from PHD Inc. for his hard work on this project. Hats off to Travis Haynes as well, for his innovative design. 

FPE Automation is a preferred PHD Inc. partner. Whether it is their high-quality, robust off-the-shelf products, or a custom solution like this one, we can help. 

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