Commissioning of Wanli Tire Hefei Plant, Establishment of a New Model in Smart Manufacturing

        --The first tire plant with “all-area intelligence, all-process automation and all-round greenization” in the country

        --“Faster, better and more economical” highlights to open a new era for Chinese tire smart manufacturing

        The commissioning ceremony of Wanli Tire Hefei Plant (hereinafter referred to as “Wanli Hefei Plant”) was grandly held at JAC Auto Parts Industrial Park in Gangji, Changfeng County, Hefei City on November 9, 2016. This historic moment was witnessed together by government representatives from Guangdong and Anhui Provinces, leaders and experts from Tire Branch of China Rubber Industry Association, global equipment suppliers, representatives of Wanli Tire dealers, representatives of Wanli Hefei Plant constructers, and journalists from all over the country.

Wang Xiang, Deputy Major of Hefei City (middle), Li Yongwu, former Vice Minister of Ministry of Chemical Industry, 2nd & 3rd President

 of China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation (4th from right), Wang Guilin, Deputy Director of State-owned Assets Supervision

 and Administration Commission of Guangzhou (4th from left), Xu Hua, County Party Secretary of Changfeng County, Hefei City (3rd from right),

 Liu Zhengyi, County Head of Changfeng County, Hefei City (3rd from left), Fu Shoujie, Chairman of Guangzhou Vanlead Group Co., Ltd.

 (2nd from right), Huang Yong, General Manager of Guangzhou Vanlead Group Co., Ltd. (2nd from left), Chen Zhiping, Deputy General 

Manager of Jianghuai Automobile Co., Ltd. (1st from right), Shi Zheng, General Manager of Hefei Wanli Tire Co., Ltd. (1st from left)

        As a world-class tire manufacturing plant co-invested by Wanli Tire Co., Ltd. under Vanlead Group and Jianghuai Automobile Co., Ltd., with planned investment of RMB 1.988 billion and actual investment of RMB 1.428 billion, Wanli Hefei Plant covers an area of 500mu, was commenced the construction project on June 26, 2015, and will achieve the Phase I capacity of 1 million TBR tires by the end of 2016, and achieve the production capacity of annual production of 2 million TBR tires by the middle of 2017.

        In response to the “Made in China 2025” strategy, Wanli Hefei Plant is driven by innovation, proactively exploring routes of transformation and upgrade of traditional manufacturing, renovating concept of construction of tire plant, and referring to and integrating experience in automobile, bio-pharmaceuticals, etc. to build a tire plant of all-area intelligence, all-process automation and all-round greenization and establish a new model in green and smart manufacturing.  

The figure shows f Hefei Wanli Tire Co., Ltd.

        Renovating concept of plant construction with innovative thinking, integrating smart manufacturing through cross-border integration


        As the world’s largest automobile market, China is also the world’s largest vehicle tire market; but contrary to the high localization rate of parts in the automobile industry, the tire market is still dominated by foreign brands, and the domestic tire brands still cannot get away from the current low price competition. “It is certain that the world’s largest market will breed world-class brands. To surpass the international tire giants, Wanli Tire must establish world-class R&D system and manufacturing system.” Chairman Fu Shoujie of Vanlead Group proposed the goal of building a world-class brand on taking office.


        Over the three years, Vanlead Group has successively built Wanli Tire Rubber Research Institute and Vanlead Innovation Park, and accelerated the construction of the overseas research institute, to place the R&D at the same starting line with international giants from the beginning; centering on the goal of building a world-class manufacturing system, Vanlead Group has decided to construct a domestic leading and world-class tire smart manufacturing plant by taking the opportunity of the construction of Hefei Wanli Plant and according to the general requirements of “Made in China 2025” and standard of “Industry 4.0”.


        According to a vivid saying of a senior expert in the tire industry, tires are the high-tech product in the traditional manufacturing industry. Tires are traditional product because of their long history and wide applications, while tires are high-tech product because of their complex formulation design and structure design, with the production possessing characteristics of both chemical production and automobile assembly and production, plus the wide range of tire specifications that have very high requirements for flexible production. Therefore, it is not easy to produce tires with high performance and excellent quality.


        “Wanli Hefei Plant is not simple copy and simple translation of existing plants, but will develop the most ideal tire production solutions after going out to see how advanced countries do and how advanced industries do.” The initial design scheme was totally repudiated internally, and Chairman Fu Shoujie of Vanlead Group raised higher requirements for the construction team.


The figure shows Fu Shoujie, Chairman of Guangzhou Vanlead Group Co., Ltd.


        “In this process, on the one hand, we learn experience from advanced industries like automobile and bio-pharmaceutical industries, for example, we introduce the entire assembly line management idea of the automobile complete vehicle manufacturing and develop the time using standard for each process; learn the intricate management of the manufacturing process from the pharmaceutical industry, and set up four intelligent stereoscopic warehouses and so on. Many technologies that look familiar can be seen on our production line and they are all used in the tire industry for the first time. On the other hand, we have creatively ‘applied in the whole line’ the intelligence and automation, and collaboratively developed more than 600 advanced systems and equipment with more than 50 domestic and overseas suppliers. We have turned the smart manufacturing plant that the traditional people in the tire industry dare not think or do into reality.” Shi Zheng, the project leader who have dedicated all his life to tires, expressed that to him and his team, Wanli Hefei Plant was a “DreamWorks” to disrupt the traditional tire industry.


        It is worth mentioning that the “Super Brain” that drives the entire production line is the MES information system co-developed with the world-famous automation and information company Rockwell Automation. “Compared to other industry, tire industry involves both formula process and flow assembly, and it is quite difficult to implement intelligence in the whole process.” Roman Binant(罗曼.比南), Vice President for Greater China of Rockwell, talked with great emotion, “The cooperation between Vanlead and us is not the simple software buying, but the partnership for co-development. The intelligence of Hefei Plant was a process that involved continuous breaking through, overthrowing and innovating, many links were attempted for the first time, and there was no fixed pattern to use for reference. Luckily, Vanlead and we fumbled together and overcome many industry difficulties, and finally succeeded.”


        “Faster, better and more economical” highlights to establish a new model in green and smart manufacturing


        Wanli Hefei Plant, a smart plant in the real sense, “connects in the whole line” all equipment, robots and process flows via the “Super Brain” MES instead of simply integrating a bank of computers, robots and manipulators, to achieve all-area intelligence, all-process automation and all-round greenization and become a “faster, better and more ecumenical” smart plant.


        “Faster” refers to that the production time of the entire process flow of single tire is reduced from 48h to 30h, with the per-capita production value reaching RMB 3.3258 million/year being three times that of the traditional model, which is also the highest production efficiency in the domestic tire industry. The secret to that lies in the application of the all-auto transportation chain by “sea, land and air”: AGV and RGD, EMS, speed chain and elevator to connect the four intelligent stereoscopic warehouses, realize automatic logistics that improve the overall logistics efficiency, and save time from each production process, for example, the application of the natural rubber crushing and homogenization and synthetic rubber automatic conveyer system replaces the traditional rubber drying and effectively improves the problem of compound component instability caused by different batches of natural rubber; the application of the tandem internal mixer reduces the mixing times from the average 4.3 stages to 2.5 stages; for the bead core production, it is the first time in the industry that the four processes have been integrated and optimized into one process, with the equipment integration production reducing the production takt from the 59s of the traditional process to 23s.


The figure shows the bead core all-in-one machine


        “Better” refers to that product consistency is greatly promoted and quality control system is better guaranteed, with the product percent of pass of up to 99.99%. Firstly, the raw materials and components have stable quality: besides the focus on the stability of the main raw material of compounds, precision of each produced component is improved by using carbon black storage tanks for the month and the day, IHI steel calender, and FISCHER cutting machine, etc.; inventory in the production intermediate link is effectively reduced and component and semi-component quality is guaranteed through the four intelligent stereoscopic warehouses; X-ray machine and other equipment are used in the final inspection link, to realize automatic sorting, automatic detection, automatic grading, automatic identification and automatic isolation of nonconforming products, without missing inspection or grading, with the inspection results being accurate and reliable without manmade error. Bar code identification system and MES are used in the whole production process to distinguish tire specifications and inspection results and bind information to them, to realize the identification and traceability of the entire process flow. So to speak, each tire from here has the highest quality level in the world.


The figure shows the 3D gantry robot


        “More economical” refers to the realization of zero discharge of industrial wastewater, low emission of waste gas, and annual saving of 400 thousand tons of water and 26 million kwh of electricity. Hefei Plant uses the comprehensive control technology most advanced in the industry and nearly 100 energy saving and environmental protection measures to build a “smart, beautiful and clean” garden-like plant. In the wastewater treatment, Hefei Plant achieves zero discharge of industrial wastewater, and it recycles industrial wastewater, wastewater from cleaning, and domestic sewage and collects and stores rainwater, etc. and after comprehensive treatment, uses them as the make-up water of industrial circulating water; it basically does not need to purchase tap water for the industrial water, and saves about 400 thousand tons of water every year. In the waste gas treatment, it uses the ozone spraying technology for inorganic substances and low-temperature catalytic combustion technology for organic substances, achieving the rate of waste gas processing of more than 98% and rate of dust processing of 99.5%, far better than the industry advanced level. In the energy saving, steam in production is fully recycled by differential pressure power generation, sulfuration and waste-heat utilization (steam lithium bromide refrigerator refrigerates, hot-water lithium bromide refrigerator refrigerates and hot water is accessible for plant’s comprehensive use by volume exchanger after refrigeration), etc. And permanent magnet synchronous generator technology, etc. are used for high power equipment for the first time, saving about 26 million kwh of electricity ever year.


        Practicing the transformation and upgrade of traditional manufacturing industry, exploring the new route for the innovative development of state-owned enterprises


        To respond to the “Made in China 2025” strategy and practice the transformation and upgrade of traditional manufacturing industry, Wanli Hefei Plant ingeniously blends innovative idea, smart production, synergetic development, and green and environmental protection, etc., to change the traditional image of lacking technology and “silly, black, thick and stupid” of tires in the eyes of consumers, and establish a new model in smart manufacturing and green manufacturing of tire industry.


        The tire manufacturing industry is an asset-heavy industry, but through model innovation, Wanli Tire has reduced the input of fixed assets and realized “travelling light” by joining hands with Guangzhou Yuexiu Leasing to use the operating lease model and cooperate to purchase domestic production equipment. This asset-light model enabled Wanli Hefei Plant to reduce more than RMB 500 million in the total investment, largely reduce the asset-liability ratio, and pioneer the operating financial leasing in the tire industry. And the only 16-month construction cycle has upended the common belief that the smart plant just “burns cash”. In the plant construction, the role of the project in driving the industrial development has been fully reflected: advanced tire equipment manufacturers in China including Qingdao MESNAC, Tianjin Saixiang, Shenyang Blue Silver, etc. boldly attempted “new approaches” with Wanli Tire to develop many pioneered new technologies, new equipment and new processes. We can proudly say that Wanli Hefei Plant is an important practitioner in fully start the smart manufacturing in China.


        In the future, Wanli Heife Plant will go together with Wanli Tire Guangzhou Headquarters, Research Institute, Conghua Plant, Marketing Center, and the to-be-built overseas plant and overseas research institute to build the “Golden Triangle” of global R&D, global production and global marketing, to further expand the international footprint of Wanli Tire and establish a new model in the innovative development of state-owned enterprises.



        MES system: Manufacturing execution system


        AGV: Automatic guided vehicle


        RGV: Rail guided vehicle


        EMS: Electric monorail system