Hankook Advances Digital Innovation

Premium tyre maker Hankook is introducing an automatic testing system in quality control. The AI-supported system uses digital sensors and is constantly learning to improve the efficiency and accuracy of product testing. During the entire tyre testing process, specially trained experts as well as the new systems will be used in the future to ensure the required product quality and therefore driver safety. To this end, three thorough inspections will be carried out in the final phase to identify possible defects. The Hankook internal inspection with the Interferometer Tyre Tester (ITT) will check the tyre for air bubbles. An X-ray inspection will also be carried out to examine the inside of the tyre in detail. This will be followed by a final external inspection by the quality control department. Until now, image processing for defect detection has been a time-consuming challenge because the air bubbles to be identified are not exactly identical in size and shape. In addition, highly qualified technicians have had to give their opinion on the detection of irregularities based on criteria and their expertise gained through years of experience.

From now on Hankook will apply the newly developed automatic inspection system using AI technology to the ITT process. The computer-driven inspection body will independently and systematically detect and report irregularities in the products by comparing samples of the scanned product cross-sections.  At the HK-KAIST Digital Innovation Center, the joint venture of Hankook and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), development was carried out with AI experts to implement this automation system. This will not only increase the uniformity and efficiency of internal inspection with the ITT process, but also reduce production time. In the long term, the Group also plans to use AI technology for X-ray inspection and external inspection.

“Hankook has positioned itself as a digital market leader. The development of the automatic inspection system is another feature focused on this innovation and will enable us to secure a leading position in digital transformation in this rapidly changing business environment,” said Hyunshick Cho, Vice Chairman and President of the Hankook Technology Group. “We will continue to drive innovation and establish ourselves as a global leader.”

In April 2019, Hankook signed an agreement with KAIST, the leading science and technology university in South Korea, to further advance the company’s research and development and digital technology capabilities through digital transformation. Prior to this, the “HK-KAIST Digital Innovation Center” was established which cooperates with KAIST in all areas from manufacturing, logistics to research and development to gain further expertise in future technologies.

Investments in technical innovations are becoming increasingly important for the company, which has already been reflected in the name change to Hankook Tire & Technology in 2019 and underlines the tyre maker’s increasing technological orientation. Last year, the tyre maker achieved great success with its ‘Virtual Compound Design (VCD) System’, a prediction model for the properties of tyre compounds using AI. Hankook plans to extend this technology to the entire tyre development process. The goal is to build smart factories that lead digital innovation in the tyre industry and ultimately produce products of outstanding quality, tailored to the needs of customers.