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COMPANY REPORT        Tony Mailling CONTIRE NOW PRODUCED AT IVYBRIDGE Prior to the rebrand as a ContiLifeCycle plant, the Ivybridge site’s main function was as the main premises for Bandvulc, which remains a leading premium retread brand in the UK. Bandvulc products con- tinue to be developed and manufactured at the site. However, the addition of 8 new Cima presses has allowed the company to also ma- nufacture ContiRe hot retreads at the plant. ContiRe branded tyres now make up around 20% of production at the plant, according to Mailling. Most of the remainder of the company’s production of 3,500 to 4,000 retreads per week consists of Bandvulc branded hot retreads, although the company also operates a small precure retreading cell at the plant for testing purposes. FIVE YEAR INVESTMENT PLAN Most of the new innovation at the Ivybridge plant has been made since 2020 as part of a rolling five-year investment plan, which has and will continue to see £1.5 million invested in the plant each year. Of key importance is an ongoing commitment to implement a full automation initiative at the plant, which has not only improved ope- rational efficiency, but has also minimised and optimised manual handling, significantly improving health and safety. Automated pick and place units had been in place at the plant sin- ce before the acquisition using proprietary Bandvulc technology. However, that has been continued and expanded upon since then. Most impressive, though has been the implementation of two auto- mated tyre building cells, a robotic skiving station and automated spraying, all using robots. UNIQUE AUTOMATION TECHNOLOGY Particularly impressive is the company’s robotic skiving station, which is claimed to be unique in the world. Developed in conjunc- tion with a local engineering company, the unit functions by utilising Tony Mailling: “Though the name above the door may have changed, there’s no doubt that Ivybridge is continuing to lead the way in retread excellence.” a scanner, which spots necessary repairs and automatically carries out the skiving process. The capacity of the unit is 8-10 tyres per hour, carrying out rubber-only repairs up to the first belt. Anything more major than this is carried out by the factory’s skilled tyre repair operators. According to Tony Mailling, the addition of further robotic skiving units is planned. “The fact that we are able to use our own resources and expertise to develop and implement this new technology is what makes these investments possible,” he explains. “We use our own de- signers, programmers and welders to install the technology, and this lends strength to the sustainability argument,” he adds. Meanwhile, the company’s two automatic building cells, which uti- lise existing Marangoni Alpha Twin extruders, were designed and built in-house in 2022, each handling 40 tyres per hour. This process has enabled the company to save one of the three extruders used before. At the same time, the factory has got rid of the monorail system from the building area and now only uses conveyors, whilst the company’s The unique robotic skiving units at the Ivybridge plant   P.7 

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