Optimum level of safety, reliability and performance differentiate a good tyre from bad. The question of a “bad tyre” does not rise in the industry. So, manufacturers work to ensure that their product sticks to the best quality in all steps of its development. This makes Tyre Testing the crucial final check point before the tyre enters the market. Several factors need to be in place to achieve that level of quality. It is cutting edge technology that helps it to reach that level. This comes in the form of testing machines, testing processes and testing facilities. More importantly, this has to be changing in tune with the changing priorities of the industry. When it is Industry 4.0, then the final check point also needs to be Testing 4.0
For tyre development and testing, there is a need for transition to Testing 4.0
Transition to Testing 4.0
By Juban Thomas, Vice President - Global Testing and Vehicle Dynamics, CEAT
Disruption. This is one of the words that reverberates in numerous discussions at almost every work space. To succeed in disruption, the only constant is change. The initiation to change is triggered by internal drivers or external challenges, like today’s global scenario. We need to evolve, adapt and amend the course at all times. Yet, the approach should be detailed with phase-wise change management. From a big picture point of view, this approach resonates with the Industry 4.0 revolution. On those lines, for tyre development and testing, there is a need for transition to Testing 4.0. Let me share the questions I ask myself for this transition and the motives I trust on.
Why the need for this transition?
Tyre testing is a continuous effort to develop and confirm the quality, reliability and performance of a tyre, from inception to its end of life. As a tyre is developed with insights from customer’s and consumer’s requirement, the need for novel ways of tyre validation becomes imperative. Today, the need to move forward becomes vital with concepts like predicting tyre performances at early stage of development. This can be leveraged with analytics considering the abundance of valuable data. This realisation is key to gain first mover advantage, first time right products and reduce time to market.
We also need to invest in people capital to enable such a transformation. It can motivate and challenge individuals to unleash their talents.
How do we do this?
This needs visualisation of depth vs breadth dilemma. Like a banyan tree. The depth of the roots goes deep while it continues to grow taller and wider. It is a two-step process. Firstly, it is deepening of expertise and then, it is widening of knowledge.
In tyre testing, the obvious approach should be to create specialisation in each domain such as Noise, Vibration, Harshness and Handling etc. This requires mammoth effort by studying the broader aspects of vehicle to ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ tyre performances. It is performed by extensive vehicle dynamics measurements at the outdoor test track and correlating it to tyre performance data from advance tyre characteristics equipment. Some of the enablers could be DoE, attribute sensitivity studies and converting ‘feeling’ into ‘data.’ This journey put together forms Testing 3.0.
Why we need Testing 4.0?
For Testing 3.0 to sustain, specialisation of capability and specific domain expertise needs to be nurtured. However, there are limitations to it such as learning scalability, domain specific data complexity, horizontal deployment challenges, skilled manpower dependency and longer lead times. This includes the dependency on tools that are commercially available.
Hence, Testing 3.0 needs extension with a contemporary approach of deploying newer technologies like data analytics, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence. This is where, Testing 4.0 is conceived.
When can we start this transition to Testing 4.0?
After domain expertise is deepened, it aids expert teams to validate a tyre with a synergized cross functional perspective. This forms the basis of widening of knowledge. This is when, the boundaries of specific domains fade and merge as a collective breadth of know-how in tyre development and testing.
How do we go about Testing 4.0?
With the advent of open source applications, codes, affordable sensors and micro-electromechanical system (MEMS), it is exciting to create bespoke solutions for unique challenges faced in tyre testing. There are numerous benefits of this approach such as lower initial costs, quick to prototype, faster ROIs, flexibility in algorithms for prediction etc.
I feel, Testing 4.0 will stabilise and mature over the next 3 years, which will be an exciting new chapter in tyre development and testing.