Tyre manufacturer, Hankook Tire has developed the ‘Virtual Compound Design (VCD) system’, a predictive model for tyre compound properties that uses artificial intelligence. According to the company, this system is a tangible result of its efforts to create technology-based innovation and digital transformation.
VCD system uses technology that predicts the characteristics of compounds and draws the most optimal combination of the materials through artificial intelligence analysis, which is based on accumulated data. A major benefit of the system is that it does not require physical testing during the development of tyre compounds.
The development process is very complicated, as the tyre compound (a mixture of more than 15 types of materials such as natural rubber, synthetic rubber and carbon black) has different properties depending on diverse variables, including temperature, facilities, order of combination, and pressure, as well as the ratio of combinations of each material. Generally, it takes six months to three years to develop a new compound, but Hankook expects this period to be reduced by 50% if artificial intelligence is used.
The development system operates within the cloud platform by creating a ‘digital twin’ of real-life objects. Tens of thousands of units of data have been analysed through cloud computing platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google’s TensorFlow, an artificial intelligence engine, continuing their evolution through machine learning.
Such work at Hankook started as an internal research project, but it has been accelerated through collaboration with Korea’s top research institutes. Earlier this year Hankook signed an agreement with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) on research for future technologies, and the institute has cooperated on the VCD project. The partners report that accuracy of data analysis has been greatly improved using the system, and is currently showing an increased reliability rate of more than 95%.
Having claimed to have successfully applied artificial intelligence in predicting compound properties, Hankook Tire’s next plan is to expand the technology to the entire process of developing tyres, ranging from material selection, design, tyre test, and production, including mass production. In addition, the company plans to accelerate the introduction of data-based innovative technologies based on accumulated data throughout the tyre industry ecosystem, ranging from materials supply and demand, design, R&D, testing, production, distribution (SCM), and customer usage, without limitations on certain development areas.