TST is on a roll. Adapting to the latest revolutionary trend of Industry 4.0 in tire manufacturing, this trend-setting Chinese tire machinery major is forging ahead developing automation, intelligent and informational tire equipment and internationally advanced intelligent tire production equipment and production workshops in a bid to stay as a front runner in the global tire machinery industry
The revolutionary concept of Industry 4.0, which envisions the creation of a “Smart Factory” in manufacturing, has become the industry buzzword of late. The main objective of this new concept is to utilize advanced technologies like intelligent manufacturing and cognitive machine learning in order to establish very efficient manufacturing lines with zero defects to enhance efficiency and yield while reducing waste and inefficiency.
Adapting to the trend
Tianjin Saixiang Technology Co. Ltd. (TST), based in Tianjin Binhai New Area, China, is making all-out efforts to be in tune with this latest trend in the tire industry.
Explains TST Chairman Zhang Xiaochen: ”With the advent of Industry 4.0, tire companies are transforming into smart factories. And, in order to adapt to this rapid development in the tire industry, TST is making unremitting efforts to develop automation, intelligent and informational tire equipment, and internationally advanced intelligent tire production equipment and production workshops.”
Rapid business growth
Since its founding in 1989 by Zhang Zhiquan, a reputed equipment technology expert of a tire factory in Tianjin, China, TST’s products were developed around PCR, TBR and OTR tire core production equipment with TST’s own independent intellectual property & patents and the company selected a path towards optimized cost-performance machines and started providing special solution services.
Recalls Zhang Xiaochen: “After the arduous struggling and independent innovation from TST entrepreneur team, our business was essentially targeted at protecting the core interests of tire factories and providing highly customized service, so that TST has become more popular domestically and internationally. With rapid business growth, TST has now turned into a 700+ employee firm from a 15-person company and was listed in Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2010 (Stock Code: 002337)”
What is more, TST currently exports its mainstream tire building machinery to famous tire factories in Europe, USA., Japan, Russia, India, Thailand and Vietnam. In 2017, the company’s total sales rose to RMB 570,830,000 (Approx. equal to USD 87.8 million), from USD 65,600,000 in 2016, with 33% enhancement. With the continuous expansion of the company’s overseas market, TST’s total revenue from overseas exports in 2017 stood at RMB 352,590,000 (Approx. equal to USD 54.2 million), which was 40% higher than the 2016 export value of RMB 248 million, he says.
Measures for quality control
The Chairman enumerates the mesures taken by TST for quality contol as follows:
No.1: Logically inspecting and verifying the technical proposal is our basic working principle instead of blindly pursuing “high-advance” technology.
No.2: TST has built our independent high-level manufacturing and production team to keeping everything of design, machining, assembling and quality of key parts to be “under control”.
No.3: With strictly following the standard of ISO9001, ISO3834, BV France, SGS and even partially following AS9100, we are able to ensure the QC effect to be most optimized. Additionally, the TOC (Theory of Constraints) is also applied in our design and production management for precisely controlling the punctual delivery of every order.
No.4: Finally, in order to provide the fastest response and maintenance, TST has built a special after-sales team in case of any issue or problem from clients while using our products.
Developing own manufacturing system
Explaining how TST develops its own manufacturing (product) system in terms of intelligent automation, digitization and environmental protection, the Chairman says: “TST’s products are leading in the industry and leading the industry in terms of production efficiency, production process fit, equipment automation, unmanned factory, in-plant logistics automation, and production management information (MES). At present, the company’s newly developed products use intelligent components such as automatic material positioning, automatic tracking, automatic delivery in place, automatic placement, automatic alignment, real-time correction, automatic transportation (AGV trolley), robots, etc. Basically, fully automated automatic forming is achieved.”
He elaborates: “In the research and development of products, TST introduces the technology of Internet of Things, robotics and big data into the rubber equipment products. There is complete machine development or development of key parts of tire building machine such as Extrusion Line, Calender, Cutting Machine and Bead Winding Machine. The innovation points include remote monitoring of equipment, docking technology of AGV, interface technology of factory logistics system, unmanned factory robot technology, material correction system, servo control closed loop system, and new unmanned one-time Forming Machine technology, automatic data collection of customer field devices, online monitoring of operating status, remote diagnosis of equipment problems, intelligent equipment maintenance etc. to maximize the value of customers, while continuously improving the efficiency of the rubber equipment through big data analysis and stability.”
Environmental protection and safety
For environmental protection and safety, TST has implemented the EHS (Environment Health Safely) management system based on ISO 14001 and ISO 45001. It fully considers environmental protection factors in product materials and coating materials, and pays full attention to product structure and function design, operator safety and health.
Mainstream products & their advantages
Normally, the research, design and manufacturing of TST’s tire equipment products are maximally customization-oriented in order to match the requirement of clients. For internal management, TST has also followed the globally well-known management system, such as BV (Bureau Veritas) and SGS, to keep optimizing its own. During the process of equipment designing, TST takes working stability, high-level working efficiency and satisfying final tire quality as the core concept of the job. Based on the above features, TST’s products would be so popular domestically and internationally. For maintaining these advantages, TST keeps advanced and reasonable designing, compact structure and high-accuracy assembly.
Currently, TST’s most popular mainstream products are “Three-Drum All-Steel Unistage TBR Tire Building Machine” and Multiple types of “All-Steel Unistage/Multi-stage OTR Radial Tire Building Machine.
3-Drum All-Steel Unistage TBR Tire Building Machine
According to Zhang Xiaochen, the 3-Drum All-Steel TBR Tire Building Machine is definitely a competitive product of TST and the occupancy rate of this machine is significantly high in the Chinese market (50% of domestic Chinese Market). With the launch of this machine, TST leads the technological level in China on the basis of the Design Concept, Robustness, Flexibility and Precision. After continuous technical updating, this product has been covering the automation function including: Auto compound positioning, tracking, conveying (AGV technology), placing, centering, real time edge guiding and GT removing that basically implemented the full automation through entire tire production process.
(In 1996, TST had successfully self-developed the first 3-Drum All-Steel TBR Tire Building Machine, which filled the industrial vacuum of China in this field. This product, which symbolized the highest technology of tire building in China, was an important breakthrough.)
After continuous upgrading, the company’s new generation of intelligent “3-Drum TBR TBM” uses automatic material positioning, automatic tracking, automatic delivery in place, automatic placement, automatic alignment, real-time correction, Intelligent parts such as automated transportation (AGV trolley) and robots and fully realizes automated automatic forming during the forming process of radial truck tires. The single tire molding time was reduced from the traditional 210 seconds to 160 seconds, and the work efficiency was improved by 24% under the premise of improving the tire quality.
Multi-Drum All-steel OTR Unistage Tire Building machine
The company’s Multi-Drum All-steel OTR Unistage Tire Building machine has a domestic market share of more than 90%, and is also exported to well-known foreign tire companies. With the deepening of the refined design, the product project team carried out detailed innovation and optimization on the key parts of the secondary method multi-drum engineering tire forming machine, which not only solved the problems faced by tire enterprises in the production process, but also greatly improved their products. Manufacturing precision (the maximum deviation of the edge symmetry of the original equipment after the turn-up of green tire is up to 32mm, and can be improved to within 8mm) in making the project Equipment has taken a big step towards the high international level. During the development of the model, the project team accumulated a large number of “intelligent parameters” data, standardized to each key component, and emphasized the overall and modularity in the design process, so that the whole machine runs more and more smoothly.
New product innovation
14 inch to 24 inch Uni-stage PCR Tire Building Machine
The Uni-stage PCR Tire Building Machine project was planned in early 2014. The project team was formally established in June 2015, and the prototype was officially produced in September 2017.
This equipment is based on the advantages of high precision and high efficiency of tires produced by Uni-stage Tire Building Machine. Domestic and foreign tire companies use a large number of this type of machines.
Says the Chairman: “With a view to enriching TST’s product line, we are developing this new PRC TBM utilizing our rich experience and a large amount of data in the tire company over the past years.The prototype has been running for nearly a year or so, with a total output of more than 350,000. Regarding the number of class production, the current highest production is 500 per 8 hours, and the average can reach 470 every 8 hours. The overall operation is stable, and the key parameters such as output quality have reached the advanced level. As of now, TST has not received any negative feedbacks regarding the accuracy of the production equipment. In the future development direction of the project also, we plan to operate the equipment alone. Next we will introduce technologies such as robots, AGV and online vision to realize real unmanned equipment.”
The technological advantages of this innovative machine are:
— High production speed
TST uses the servo system on the basis of the original model to greatly improve the movement speed of the equipment set, as well as the motion accuracy. Moreover, by optimizing the structure, many manual interventions by the previous equipment operators were removed. All the action processes are accurately and quickly detected by the sensor, and there is no control delay in the program to greatly reduce the cycle time of the single tire.
— Higher production accuracy
From processing and manufacturing to assembly, from on-site installation to start-up and commissioning, TST has strengthened quality management for all processes and strengthened the accuracy of the equipment. A large number of documents were prepared for measurement and adjustment, and some structures were designed to ensure the stability of accuracy of the equipment. And TST has re-optimized its design management system to ensure that its equipment can continue to optimize the cycle time under the efforts of the TST team.
— Stronger automation production capacity
Thanks to TST’s redesigned tire-facing system and more accurate belt-fitting control, the BT side is fully automated. On the CC side, TST has improved the structure of the drum, and made the compounding the drum body closer to the true circle when it was fitted, and obtained the corresponding patent.
— More friendly human-machine Interface
The semi-steel one-time method introduces a more advanced human-machine interface concept, and has carried out in-depth development in several aspects such as beautiful picture, rich functions, reliable operation and intelligent maintenance. Customer feedback is currently good. The alarm information and operation prompts on the screen actually improve the maintainability of the device.
The prototype has been running for nearly a year or so, with a total output of more than 350,000. Regarding the number of class production, the current highest production is 500 per 8 hours, and the average can reach 470 every 8 hours. The overall operation is stable, and the key parameters such as output quality have reached the advanced level. As of now, TST has not received any negative feedbacks regarding the accuracy of the production equipment. In the future development direction of the project also, TST plans to operate the equipment alone. Next the company plans to introduce technologies such as robots, AGV and online vision to realize real unmanned equipment.
Target markets: Domestic and international
Usually, TST’s sale market is divided as “International” and “Chinese Domestic”. The TST-make machines have covered almost every tire factory in China and the relationship between TST and its customers in China are very well maintained. Meanwhile, TST has established its branch companies (offices) in India, America, Turkey and Holland. For this year, the sale target country will be India. Especially, the company has made impressive sale achievement in the Indian Market. Since India and China are both being the important economies in Asia and worldwide, strategically, TST has always taken India as the largest market outside of China. Consequently, TST has made plans to set up the subsidiary company in India to further strengthen our Branch influence and service quality.
Important export markets
Currently, the overseas market of TST covers famous tire factories in Europe, U.S.A., Japan, Russia, India, Thailand and Vietnam.
Besides, because of the upgrading of China’s domestic tire factories, more and more plants such as such as “WAN LI Tire” and “ZC Rubber” are gradually shifting to outside of China. As result, TST’s previous market concept which was “domestic market-oriented” had to be transformed to “international market-oriented”. TST still needs to continuously upgrade and expand its manufacturing to suit the market change and enhance the international competitiveness of the TST products.
Roadmap for future
Regarding TST’s roadmap for the immediate future, the Chairman says: “In the next five years, we will continue to base on rubber machinery industry, focus on key equipment manufacturing for radial tire as our core business and move forward towards informational intellectual, flexible and unmanned tire equipment to make full play of technical innovations. Continuous technical improvement, strict quality control and further optimized service system will still be our most working attention. Our business running mode will be diversified with independent technical innovation and acquisition. And, at the same time, we will bring in senior technical researchers from overseas to optimize our technical designing concepts based on the principle of “Precision”, “Robustness” and “Flexibility” for improving the existing core products.”
Adds Zhang Xiaochen: “While making unremitting efforts to adapt to the latest trend of Industy 4.0, we shall keep consolidating our TST’s brand advantage not only to build up Sai Xiang as China’s famous domestic brand but also to turn it into an internationally recognized brand with excellent reputation and significant customer loyalty and we will try our best to make our company a leader of rubber machinery manufacturing in China while building up its influence across the world.”