Hankook Tire & Technology Co. Ltd. has started implementing the use of a new AI-based digital sensor technology as part of the final inspection process for tires in order to enhance efficiency and consistency.
Currently, the company is developing the new inspection system as proprietary technology, in the long run the plan is to turn the system into a stand-alone business that might be licensed to third parties.
According to the Korean tire manufacturer, the final-stage inspection involves three types of examination for the detection of any possible defects: use of a type of shearography for internal inspection; X-ray inspection of a tire’s internal structure; and external visual inspection.
Hankook will be using the AI-based technology particularly for the shearography and X-ray inspections. The company chose to term this as Interferometer Tire Testing (ITT).
Currently, skilled technicians examine the ITT images based on experience they have gained over several years. The use of AI technology would make it possible for the computer to find defects in nonconforming patterns systematically, thus expediting the process.
Shearography, or interferometric measurement, is essentially a non-destructive, contactless inspection process that compares two laser-based images of a tire — one taken when it is at rest and one under vacuum — to detect any anomalies in a tire’s internal construction.
Hankook said it developed and implemented this system based on machine-learning technology in collaboration with AI experts in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).
“Hankook has been positioning itself as a digital leader,” Hyunshick Cho, vice chairman and president of Hankook Technology Group.
“The development of the automatic inspection system is yet another feature aligned to such innovation, making it possible for us to secure a leading position in digital transformation in this fast-changing business environment.”
According to Hankook, the new system offers two benefits – it can reduce the decision making time for final inspection and thus enhance plant efficiency and also maximize consistency and efficiency of the final inspection.
Hankook plans to leverage AI technology for X-ray inspection and external inspection as well.
“We will continue to pursue innovation and advance towards a global top-tier company,” Mr. Cho said.
Currently, the new AI-based system has been implemented at just one factory, the car and truck tire factory located in Geumsan, South Korea. The plan is to start installing the system at all Hankook factories across the globe after the system is completely tested at Geumsan by October 2020.
This is the second time that Hankook has adopted the use of an AI-based technology. In 2019, the tire manufacturer had announced that it had developed a “Virtual Compound Design” system that used AI for for predicting the properties of tire compounds.
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