The 2016 MHI Annual Industry Report ranks robotics and automation as one of the top emerging technologies that will “transform and/or disrupt” supply chains over the next decade. The report also notes that 74% of its survey participants plan to introduce robotics or automation into their supply chains within the next six years.
This explains the large shift in tire manufacturers looking to update their existing facilities and automate their new warehouses. Many robotic manufacturers have noticed this shift and have begun to offer fully automated handling solutions for tire manufacturing and distribution. If you fall into this category and are looking to optimize your facility, it’s best to understand the process of automating tire handling and its benefits.
A focus on distribution
With integrated automation, the retailer now has the capability to receive tires at the distribution center in trailers, transfer them on a conveyor system, and ultimately bring them to the automation processes. Tires are automatically identified and then reconciled with the trailer manifest. They are then entered into the gantry automation, where they are cross docked, or palletized by product type for storing in a high bay storage area for future gantry replenishment. Electronic orders are communicated to the automation system via the warehouse management system (WMS), which directs the gantries to pick those orders and place them in outbound stations. From there, they are pushed to the outbound doors and sent to the retail store.
This approach gives distribution centers the advantage of having the ability to handle tires on demand on a daily basis, and much larger peak volumes when needed; not to mention decreasing the likelihood of product damage and improving worker ergonomics – both health and safety. Additionally, the distribution center achieves a high level of accuracy in tracking tires through the facility and has rapid order fulfillment with reduced level of errors. The advanced software provides total control of the material and data flow, and enables precise, real-time data to be gathered, ensuring intelligent decision making for production and inventory management.
Breaking down the benefits
Now that we understand how the automated system works, we need to dive into the benefits, such as getting ahead of the competition. Tire manufacturers and distributors seeking to automate their facilities – old and new – will be able to gain:
– Total control of the manufacturing/distribution processes at each stage;
– Real-time data for inventory management, including 100% availability of product at each point in the handling process;
– Optimum utilization of the automation, to secure the ability to satisfy demands and return on investment;
– Streamlined material flow that allows facilities managers to minimize buffering and maximize efficiency;
– Minimized capital investment for Greenfield sites through optimized layout design;
– More efficient use of space and increased capacity within given building constraints in Brownfield sites.
A solution for the future
Keeping up with trends and staying competitive in the market is never an easy task. It can appear to be costly, overwhelming and at times seemingly difficult to justify. However, it is impossible to meet rising customer demands when not using proper, up-to-date automation and innovation. Because of this, it is important to upgrade your processes and technology. Analysis often proves that the way to do this is by building an entirely new facility. Robotic solution providers have changed the game again by now offering automated systems that streamline the manufacturing process for both new (greenfield) and old (brownfield) facilities. They can create unique solutions that are tailored for each manufacturing and distribution process and they can be installed in new and existing plants as either a one-time deployment or independently through a scalable and phased implementation. Automating your warehouse will ensure your product keeps on rolling to market.