Post Cure Inflation machines (PCI’s) in the tire industry historically cycle in terms of demand and usage.
Most recently, the demand for PCI’s has been on the upswing. Companies that have never used them are now using them, and companies that used them and stopped using them are now using them again.
As the design of tire construction changes, it becomes more important to consider the need for PCI equipment. For example, tires constructed using man-made materials with a heat memory need to be inflated while cooling. In this case, the PCI process allows those tires to maintain their designed profile and performance characteristics when they reach road temperatures.
Want better tire testing results? Our customers tell us that tire uniformity yield actually improves with PCI’d tires! It may also surprise you to learn about the latest use for PCI’s – as a single tire rotation station. Design features like adjustable inflation, auto/manual rotation, and adjustable bead width enable our single tire PCI to function as the ideal test stand for secondary, manual inspection of sidewall or runout rejects.
Firwood~ASM PCI’s can be ordered in various sizes and styles—from small, single tire manual PCI’s to machines that can handle large truck and even OTR tires. Our Quad PCI machines can handle 4 tires at a time (both passenger and truck). We also offer PCI’s with independent side to side operations to fit with newer press designs and operations and have even designed a flexible “cart style” PCI on rollers that can be moved to different areas of a tire plant.
Air pressure capability for these machines ranges from 80 psi (5.5 bar) on passenger machines to 200 psi (13.7 bar) on the truck machines, plus or minus 1 psi (0.07 bar). To ensure that each tire is in the proper position and locked before it is inflated, we design our chucks for “safe to lock” and “safe to inflate” operation.
The operation of a quad PCI is quite simple:
- Once it receives the unload warning from the press, the PCI rotates the two (2) coolest tires to the bottom side of the machine, deflates the tires, unlocks the chucks, and lowers the tires to be sent to the take-away conveyor.
- When the press opens, the tires are loaded directly into the PCI, and lifted into position to be locked and inflated to the pre-selected pressure.
- After the lifting yoke lowers, the tires rotate to the top of the PCI to keep the warmest tires in the highest position.
Controls for automatic PCI’s can reside in the press, with total operation handled by the press PLC, or we can provide a stand-alone system with an internal PLC and handshake information interfaced to the press for “Press ready to unload” and “PCI ready to receive tires.”
Today, hundreds of Firwood~ASM PCI’s continue to provide safe and reliable service in tire factories worldwide. If you have older PCI’s you want to update to accommodate current or projected production requirements, we can rebuild them to original factory specifications and offer a new machine warranty.
While the popularity of post cure inflation may shift back and forth over time, the contribution of Firwood~ASM PCI machines to the manufacture of all kinds of tires remains constant. We are committed to providing the best PCI available and continuing to engineer the quality and performance improvements that meet the changing needs of our customers.