According to Goodyear, the IMPACT manufacturing process minimizes splices and reduces the number of process steps by half, allowing for improved consistency from tire to tire.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber recently launched its new G395 LHS over-the-road steer tire – the first tire built with the company’s new IMPACT (Integrated Manufacturing, Precision Assembly, Cellular Technology) system.
IMPACT, according to Goodyear, is a manufacturing technology designed to improve tire building precision, increase manufacturing efficiency and reduce production costs. It integrates component formation and assembly, automated tire assembly and curing within a cellular system, for a “significant improvement” in tire quality and uniformity.
Further, says Goodyear, IMPACT increases productivity by 135 percent, cuts cycle times by 70 percent, minimizes splices and reduces the number of process steps by half.
“This allows for improved consistency from tire to tire,” says Dan Harrison, manager, quality and technology at Goodyear’s Danville, Va., plant. “We’ve taken the variability out of steer tire manufacturing.”
In conventional tire manufacturing, components such as natural and synthetic rubber, carbon black, chemicals and other ingredients are combined in huge mixing machines called banburys. The ingredients form components such as plies, belts, sidewalls, barrier, beads and other tire parts. They are extruded and formed into rolls. A tire builder then assembles these components into a so-called “green tire,” which is later cured in a press.
In short, there is some room for inconsistency.
Seeking improvement, Goodyear engineers designed a hot former calendering system that produces and forms 12 of a truck tire’s 23 components in a continuous manufacturing system. Goodyear has secured six U.S. patents for the device.
The hot former consists of several pairs of heated steel rollers and a conveyor system. Each pair of rollers squeezes out and forms one of the tire components. A trained operator using a laser-guided machine lays down and combines the components into a continuous sheet of rubber material. The material is then wound into specially designed reels, which are moved to the tire building area. With the hot former, Goodyear says it can keep tire components fresher, which makes it easier for them to adhere to other components.
“With the hot former and the IMPACT process, we have very little variation,” says Harrison. “We’ve taken a lot of the human intervention out of it.”
The benefits to the end user, which Goodyear says will be evident in its new steer tire, include more uniform wear, more miles to removal, better retreadability and optimized traction and handling.