Careful programming of wheel transport

Tomasz Duda from Transsystem discusses the challenges of transporting wheels, working with automotive giants and why programmers are essential in this process.


The transport of tyres is not the only aspect that Transsystem deals with. Another specialisation of you company is also the transport of wheels. For the layman these two areas may appear to be the same thing.


This is true, but the two processes differ in many aspects. The first basic difference is that the wheel doesn’t go through the entire process that the tyre does. However, both of them are two complete products that must arrive at the factory and which are subject to the Just In Time principle. So there is no room for ordering something in advance. Everything has to be done at the exact moment the order is required. For example, this is the case with a car factory. The whole process must also be coordinated with the transport of the rims. This is an additional challenge that the supplier has to meet.


What exactly does this involve?


It is about perfectly matching the production time of a vehicle with the delivery of a specific wheel (rim and tyre). Therefore, the production line has to be designed in such a way that the time it takes to deliver the component from the warehouse coincides with the time it takes the employees in charge to select a specific set of wheels. The wheel has to go to the right place and there is no room for error. It is therefore necessary to design an appropriate buffer system that manages the time and the “holding” of the wheels on the line so that everything is, literally, Just In Time.


The intralogistics warehouse receives the wheel sets, the trucks are unloaded, the wheels are transferred to a large collecting conveyor, they are then separated into sets and then depalletized (one wheel cannot ride on top of the other, meaning they are transported one after the other).


The right technology is therefore also crucial in wheel conveyor systems.


Of course, a system of this type is not easy to set up. The specialists responsible for programming automated machinery, and who use programmable logic controllers (PLC), are extremely important in this process as it is based on many variables – the line has a certain length, it needs a particular buffering configuration, and there are specific periods when the wheels have to be transported. The know-how and experience of our specialists is key in the successful completion of the projects we carry out. This is why our programmers take part in regular training sessions. They are divided into teams with knowledge of Siemens, Rockwell Automation, Allan Bradley, Beckhoff, and Mitsubishi systems.


And what does the process look like from behind the scenes?


The employee is informed by the system when the car arrives at the point where the wheels are to be fitted. Everything is based on the correct exchange of data with other devices and systems in the factory. In order to avoid the majority of errors, we use special emulation programmes, which examine the exchange process, the type of information and verify the list of errors to be eliminated. This allows us to eliminate up to 80% of errors.


But what if a mistake does happen?


Of course, it is never possible to eliminate all errors. However, before the line is put into normal production, Transsystem always tests it for about two weeks. Sometimes we are provided with a sample product, which we can stress-test. After the evaluation period, the line is reported to the client as ready for acceptance and is tested, for example on Sundays. Then the system is examined “live” by the factory employees with our team staying in the factory for the next few days to control the process.


Can a solution designed for one customer be used for other clients?


We cooperate with leading international companies from the automotive sector, such as Volkswagen, BMW and Audi. Each of these brands has different requirements and needs, which call for a very individual approach. Therefore, the success of a project is determined by careful measurements taken at the client’s factory, establishing the standards of the company, analysing its needs, testing our solutions and creating a dedicated team which conducts the whole project.


The basis for success is also to know the standards that must be met by the equipment of specific manufacturers. It’s all about nuances, which if not taken into account, cause major problems later on. One customer may want a roll with a diameter of 50mm, while another only allows 60mm. However, Transsystem has the know-how to create a conveyor identical to conveyors manufactured by, for example, BMW or Volkswagen.


But do you also offer customised solutions?


Of course. A perfect example would be our reliable modular belts on the curves of the BMW conveyor system. Instead of the popular rubber belt, which tends to get damaged, making it necessary to replace the entire belt, we install the Intralox modular belt, which is much easier to use, to maintain, and when it gets damaged, it’s enough to replace the section and not the entire belt.


Another example is the lift, which is part of every project. Sometimes it is secured according to strict standards, and sometimes it requires a very individual approach – in this case the design process has to take the lead from the beginning.


The basis of our philosophy is to offer our clients optimal solutions for their business.


Transsystem specializes in designing and manufacturing material handling systems suited to the needs of its customers. The company has gained experience by implementing projects in many countries, in the vast majority of tire and car factories around the world as well as other industrial sectors.


To learn more about Transsystem’s offer, please go to: https://transsystem.pl/en/offer