Every industry today feels the pressures of the new global—and social—economy, and faces both opportunity and challenge. For all that rubber and tires are nearly two-hundred-year-old products, manufacturers in those arenas still have opportunity to grow. One industry expert suggests the global automotive tire market will reach a demand for more than 2.5 billion units by 2022, and another expects it to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 6% over the next few years, to reach approximately $410 billion by 2025.
Their challenges start with adopting new technology and coping with the increased contact, input, and visibility with customers and influencers via social media. In addition, natural rubber production is on the decline as demand is increasing due to global economic expansion, and the scramble is on to find new sources and/or formulations of synthetic compounds. Whatever materials they use, they’re required to meet ever-stricter government regulations and ever-changing global standards if they hope to compete on a global scale.
Facing these demands, as well as the industry’s development potential, rubber and tire manufacturers are looking to maximize productivity in every stage of the development and manufacturing process. From enabling advanced materials science to facilitating efficient designs and simulations to streamlining manufacturing and supply chain operations, new technologies, such as Adaptive’s PLM solutions, can help.
Here’s how we support every stage in the digital to physical lifecycle.
Materials science is one of the key issues for rubber and tire manufacturers—whether they’re developing their own compounds and formulations or creating a tire for the most effective balance between grip, rolling resistance, and wear. Economic considerations are also vital in the design stage, and a streamlined, integrated software platform such as Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE, which integrates 3D design software with tools that support every other stage of product lifecycle management, offers every advantage for reducing time and cost in development.
Manufacturers can not only incorporate specific materials data into their designs, in order to accurately model and simulate how a specific compound will act, they can also do their own development and analysis of materials compounds and formulations. With a foundational PLM platform, concepts begun in design software can be developed, tested, prototyped, produced, and ultimately tracked in the hands of customers, without a break in the access to every bit of data about the product.
When performance is your product’s most vital metric—especially performance allied with reduced cost to manufacture—a platform that tightly integrates design and simulation software is a must. Particularly with rubber and tire science, where the goal is the optimal point between the “magic triangle” of traction, wear resistance (fatigue analysis), and fuel efficiency. Simulating designs in the software platform is a sure means of speeding the process of material and tire development. For example, by one report, computer simulation meant Pirelli developed 50% fewer prototypes during the creation of their P Zero Corsa tire.
Simulation tightly coupled with design software can lead to a reduction in development time—savings over designing, creating physical prototypes, testing, analyzing, and then starting the cycle again—as well as an improvement in the goals all rubber and tire manufacturers share: the highest possible quality of ride, with the lowest noise and highest comfort.
Key themes in the rubber and tire industry center on goals for the manufacturing process—reducing manufacturing costs, conserving resources, improving recycling, and other environmental topics. One tire executive sees a huge opportunity for improving ROI through better management of the supply chain. Fortunately, with a robust PLM platform like Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE, simulation isn’t just for product designs anymore. It’s also for the manufacturing process.
The virtual manufacturing module allows manufacturers to plan, simulate, and model global production processes directly in software. The opportunity to experience production virtually, before they have to spend millions starting up the real process, means they can identify supply chain problems, discover where environmental concerns can be addressed, and change procedures or timelines to better suit their product lifecycle—ahead of time.
When rubber and tire manufacturers need an interim step between in-software simulation and actual rubber prototype or production parts—perhaps for physical representations of tread designs, wall construction, or even production tooling—additive manufacturing (AM) can be the answer. AM, the process of compiling material to build up a part rather than machining material away, can refer to a variety of processes—from material extrusion and material jetting to photopolymerization—but the most popular and available of them is 3D printing. With the advent of affordable printers from manufacturers like Markforged and innovative printing materials, many manufacturers now have AM devices on-site for rapid prototyping and simulation in support of iterative design.
A vital part of the product lifecycle process is inspecting, scanning, and analyzing products after testing and use. For rubber and tire manufacturers, nothing is as useful as real-world information, whether it’s data collected from controlled tests or from the rigors of professional racing environments. When you 3D-scan products, tools, or parts that need to be reworked and improved, you can create 3D, digital images in the CAD platform that can be redesigned and analyzed for compliance with customer requirements, as well as a variety of standards. Inspection and reporting processes integrated into Adaptive’s inspection and metrology solutions also help ensure products meet design performance criteria and avoid unwanted warranty defect claims and returns.
Plenty of areas exist outside of direct product design and development where manufacturers in the rubber and tire science arenas can use technology to improve the efficiency of production—and thereby increase safety and driving comfort for their customers. Business intelligence forms the basis of these other efforts, encompassing the collection, maintenance, cross-linking, and use of everything known about the products and organization to promote the products. At the core of Dassault’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform is a single location for every scrap of product, customer, supplier, and operational data relevant to your business.
With that valuable business data easily accessible, no longer siloed or lost in institutional memory, manufacturers can use it in such wide-ranging activities as efficiently communicating with customers, interacting with the public via social media, tracking compliance with ever-increasing regulations, and collecting data on environmental initiatives.
Manufacturers, businesses, and customers today demand instant, trouble-free communication to compete in an increasingly speedy and global marketplace. In addition, having all of the right information at the right time is critical for an efficient PLM process. That’s why Adaptive’s PLM solutions provide a comprehensive toolset for connecting content, context, and process across the office or across the globe—ensuring communication and collaboration about every aspect of a project, between every person, and at every stage of the product lifecycle.