Laser marking allows to create DOT codes, logos and other symbols, serial numbers, 2D codes and many other variable information on tire sidewalls.
The non-contact laser process selectively removes rubber on the sidewall to create a crisp engraving. Fonts and design specifications are controlled directly in the tire factory and not subject to any deviations as is the case with molds from different mold manufacturers. Ugly rubber flash around inserts is prevented and no inserts are lost or incorrectly installed. 4JET T-Mark systems offer the possibility to visually check, measure and document markings by image.
Laser Tire Marking increases the flexibility of tire production by shifting part of the tire sidewall marking further downstream after quality control, tire finishing operations or even to the warehouse. The number of stock keeping units (SKU) can be reduced significantly helping to bring down working capital. The optical appearance of the tire is improved and a new level of flexibility in variant production can be achieved.
Tire marking today with tin slugs or labels is an expensive manual process leaving room for even more expensive errors: missing or wrong sidewall information can result in costly recalls. And manual replacement of date tins in the hot and open curing press exposes operators to safety risks.
Laser marking enables contact free, precisely controlled and fully automatic engraving of sidewalls - making Industry 4.0 in the curing room possible.
Reducing Inventory by Laser Marking
More and more tire sizes for an ever growing number of vehicles drives the proliferation of SKU (stock keeping units) in tire manufacturing today. At the same time, the OE and replacement markets alike are relentlessly asking for fast delivery of any product anywhere. To meet this demand, tire makers stock an astonishing 20% of their revenue in their warehouses, tying up billions of cash in inventory.
However, there is an opportunity to drive down inventory levels by downstream customization of tires: The number of green tire types is considerably lower than the actual number of SKU created from these. This is because the same green tire may be used for an OE tire with a special logo vs. its aftermarket version, it may be destined to a specific geography requiring yet another symbol, or it will receive added functions downstream, such as seal-, silent- or RFID-capability - requiring yet another symbol.
The traditional way of molding all these information on the sidewalls during curing requires tire makers to decide before production where the tire will be sold to - often weeks or months ahead of the time when demand is clear. As a result, and in order to be prepared for every scenario, tire makers stock more tires than needed.
Using flexible laser marking technology allows to customize a tire platform from one green tire into different SKU long after the curing process. To do so, laser marking is performed in the warehouse once an order is received for a given derivative of a SKU. Such a paradigm shift in manufacturing and warehousing could potentially reduce inventory levels by double digits and free up significant cash on tire makers balance sheets.
Typical application examples for platform downstreaming are:
- Product variant symbols (seal, silent, RFID)
- National legal markings ("CCC" or Maple Leaf)
- OE markings (such as the BMW star, "AO" for Audi etc)
- Customer logos for co-branding
- Labelling to prevent grey imports
Another key application for laser engraving of tires is traceability by QR or datamatrix codes. Using our superblack highcontrast SCANNECT technology each sidewall can be marked with a permanent and unique, machine readable 2D code within seconds. Key benefits of 2D code marking of tire sidewalls:
- Full traceability
- Lower cost per tire than any competing identifier (labels, RFID)
- Very simple implementation without re-engineering of existing tires
- Automated and controlled processes
- Standard approved by leading OEMs
- Codes are readable by select commercial vision systems and SCANNECT smartphone app
- To be combined with other marking operations (date codes, symbols and more)
Already today more than 100 million tires carry a laser engraved DOT week code. Replacing the manual exchange of slugs in the curing press has many significant advantages:
- Lower variable cost per tire
- Improved press uptime
- Elimination of safety hazards for in-press work
- Elimination of human error and costly recalls
- To be combined with other marking operations (QR codes, symbols and more)