RFID based eKANBAN solution empowers
tyre manufacturing at Saterex

Eurl Saterex-Iris is the third biggest tyre manufacturing plant in Africa, serving both local market as well as export markets. The plant is very modern, carried out mainly by Finnish Black Donuts Engineering inc., in cooperation with international partner network.

Black Donuts Engineering is also responsible for the production management, which follows Lean principles and concentrates on reducing interim storage levels according to pull method. In order to enhance production management, RFID based electronic eKanban solution was developed together with Toptunniste. The eKanban solution enables better and real time tracking of overall production status, as well as enhances production process and supervision of work.

#eKanban solution    |    #production management    |   #work process optimization

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Better overview of the production

Black Donuts Engineering inc. (later Black Donuts) wanted to replace traditional Kanban boards, which were in use at Eurl Saterex-Iris (later Saterex) plant, with better electronic eKanban boards. The aim was to improve production management with electronic boards.

The challenge was how to get a better overall view of the whole production. There were totally nine Kanban boards located around the production area in two floors. All of the nine Kanban boards were followed separately and manually. Perceiving the overall situation on production was slow and troublesome.

Another challenge was lack of information on return schedule of the production cards. The Kanban boards did not give enough information on when a certain material was supposed to be in production. Marking the return time of cards into Kanban board was not always remembered. It was difficult to notice alerts and the amount of stock left.

The solution development was initiated with Toptunniste. There was already experience on cooperation and RFID technology from another RFID project for a tyre plant.

Real time production status with electronic eKanban boards

The development of an electronic Kanban board was done based on pull method and manual Kanban steering. In order to view Kanban board through data network, traditional Kanban board needed to be developed electronic.

Black Donuts presented the idea to FENTEC (former Toptunniste) and based on negotiations, the decision was to combine traditional Kanban board and RFID technology. Suitable board and RFID reader were needed. The simple solution was to add RFID features to existing Kanban board. Traditional cards were replaced with RFID cards, which could be red through RFID technology.

The aim was to get better overall view of the production, as eKanban boards could be viewed from any computer at Saterex through a web browser. With eKanban solution, an overall view of the production was possible. The whole situation of the nine eKanban boards located around the production area could be viewed electronically from a same shared view.

With eKanban solution, time markings are gained automatically for each card, when placed on eKanban board. The system counts and alerts automatically, when material amount in stock approaches the limit.

eKanban solution optimizes production process at the tyre plant

eKanban solution was taken into use at Saterex tyre plant in the fall 2019. The solution offers different levels of benefits for optimizing the production.

For operators in the production lines, the new solution will not change the way of working. Operators will use Kanban boards as earlier. Superiors and factory management for their part, are able to view production situation remotely and real time through web interface. The solution helps in prioritizing work better and shortens reaction time to difficulties in production. eKanban helps in planning, as all production phases can be viewed simultaneously.

The background information on production is brought to eKanban system from MES system, where daily consumption levels of each process, as well as minimum and maximum storage levels, are defined. Separate eKanban views, which visualize the interim storage levels, can be accessed through MES. eKanban solution is used only for tracking the production, not to automatically assign anything. Decisions based on received information are made by the team. The solution helps to improve tracking and optimizing operations.

The eKanban solution also enhances work management. Earlier, operators brought cards to Kanban board in larger sets, and the reason for this was not found out. With manual Kanban board, the cards were not returned to board, even though operator’s material unit was empty. With eKanban, its is possible to track unique information on cards, even though several cards with different material profiles are attached simultaneously.  eKanban solution makes returning cards more regular, and adds time markings into them. This supports operator’s work development and helps in work management.

Production management in the plant complies with pull methodology, which main benefit is to reduce interim storage levels. eKanban solution, which follows Lean principles, brings additional possibilities to it. Optimizing production with Kanban boards is actualizing already, but with electronic eKanban solution, production can be tracked even better and some challenges with physical Kanban are solved.

eKanban cards include RFID tags, which enable also pallet tracking in manufacturing.


Black Donuts is an innovative and independent partner for tire manufacturers worldwide. Their unique team can build a top-efficient tire factory, start the production, and run the R&D. Their strength is the knowledge of tire manufacturing process from inside out.

Black Donuts aims to become a major global player in the tire industry offering turnkey solutions in all fields of tire manufacture and technology. Their goal is in building valuable long-term relationships with customers, developing the tire industry together.


#RFID #eKanban #automatic #identification #production management #workflow #optimization #tracking #BetterKnowledge #BlackDonuts #FENTEC

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