Examation contains a wealth of proprietary, and potentially copyable technology, and therefore Bridgestone hasn’t supplied any detailed photos of the system
A new method of assembling tyres that promises to improve quality and productivity while eliminating the risk of human error has been introduced within a Bridgestone Corporation plant in Japan. The tyre maker has announced the installation of the new Examation system at its flagship Hikone passenger car tyre production site. But what is Examation?
The tyre maker reports that Examation “combines Bridgestone’s proprietary information and communication technologies with artificial intelligence.” The proprietary technologies Bridgestone refers to have been developed in stages over the past two decades: Research into tyre production systems employing ICT and other cutting-edge technologies began at Bridgestone in the late 1990s with the aim of creating more functional tyres and improving quality. In 2002, the company developed the BIRD (Bridgestone Innovative and Rational Development) production system, which was the world’s first system for realising complete automation in areas of production ranging from components processes to product inspection processes. This system also was equipped to track conditions at manufacturing sites in real time.
The new Examation system incorporates more advanced versions of the information and communication technologies utilised in the BIRD system and also employs new proprietary technologies based on the new concepts of Bridgestone Intelligent Office (BIO) and Bridgestone Intelligent Device (BID). BIO and BID refer to new technologies that incorporate data analysis utilising Bridgestone’s core expertise in the processing of high polymer rubber complex materials, which represents a core technology area. These technologies also employ proprietary algorithms that are made by combining analysis of big data collected from manufacturing processes with the techniques and know-how of Bridgestone’s experts in manufacturing process.
Based on the algorithms that exceed prior insight created by BIO, BID introduces a unique artificial intelligence that automatically controls production systems, thereby enabling automatic control of production processes and quality assurance judgments and procedures that were previously dependent on the human skills. Bridgestone says the system allows a minimisation of various production process disparities arising from differences in the human capabilities to realise levels of manufacturing precision not previously seen. Furthermore, the data collected though this system will be utilised in conjunction with data on existing tyre assembling machines, processes conducted before and after assembling, products, and various other areas to improve the overall quality of procedures throughout factories.
The Examation tyre assembling system improves quality and productivity in the following ways:
Improved quality: The Examation system is equipped with an artificial intelligence that uses sensors to measure the data of individual tyres based on 480 quality items. The system uses this information to control production processes in real-time and thereby ensures that all components are assembled under the ideal conditions. This system helps promote ultrahigh levels of precision in tire manufacturing, resulting in an improvement of more than 15 per cent in uniformity when compared to conventional manufacturing process.
High productivity: Conventional manufacturing process involve layering all components in a single drum, meaning that the next step of the process could not be started until this layering was complete, and this results in longer production lead times. The Examation system, meanwhile, employs a multi-drum approach through which numerous drums are used to simultaneously advance several parts affixation processes, thereby doubling productivity in comparison to conventional procedures.
Automated processes with no skill requirements: Conventional manufacturing procedures were built on the assumption that assembling would be performed manually, which made the transfer of human skills and education crucial aspects of the manufacturing process. The Examation system enables production processes and quality assurance judgments that were previously dependent on manual labour. As a result, this system eliminates the various human disparities to realise higher levels of quality and efficiency.
Plans are already in place to roll out the system within further Bridgestone plants around the world, and it will also be built into new tyre making factories in order to boost production competitiveness.