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Peering into the Future

Peering  into the Future
Dr. James A Popio

Dr. James A Popio

Tyre engineers are focusing on ways to reduce weight and improve rolling resistance in the context of the changes in vehicle technologies. Tyres will have a pivotal role in OEMs’ vehicle improvement goals, says Dr. James A Popio, General Manager and Director of Engineering at Ohio-based Smithers Rapra’s Ravenna Laboratory. At its three-day conference themed Future of Tire Technology in October, delegates will deliberate on issues such as alternative tyre materials and construction to determine an ideal mix of cost, durability and fuel efficiency. Technologists and executives will also debate the industry’s future, including solutions to the stressors on the users and producers of the tyre supply chain, he elaborated in this interview.

At a time when the tyre industry is going through one of its toughest times in terms of product marketing and technological changes that focus on sustainable mobility, what do you think are the key issues that the conference would be addressing?
Smithers Rapra’s Future of Tire Technology – taking place October 28-30 in Charlotte, NC – is a challenge to the tyre industry to come together as a group and determine real solutions to stressors on the users and producers of the tyre supply chain. Through extensive collaboration with the industry, we have taken great pains to ensure equal voice from materials suppliers, producers, equipment manufacturers, OEMs, retail and – not to be forgotten – the

everyday consumer at this inaugural conference and exhibition.
The Future of Tire Technology 2013 programme begins with a look at the OE landscape with such industry leaders like Chuck Yurkovich of Cooper Tire, Paul Burgoyne of Vantage Intermodal and more. The first day will close out with an in-depth look at what the tyre needs to do for each player in the supply chain, with group dialogue on how conflicting needs can be mitigated. You’ll hear perspectives from University of Akron, Firestone Polymers, Pirelli Tyre SpA, Ford Motor Company and others.

On Day 2, we’ll dwell deep into the trends, costs, compliance, automation and technology of making tyres to ever-changing specifications, as well as the latest innovations from raw material suppliers in response to the needs of tyre manufacturers and customers. Consumers Union, DuPont, Lehigh Technologies Inc., Lanxess Corporation, ExxonMobil Chemical Co., Teijin Aramid USA among others will lead the discussions.

We’ll close out the event with a focus on two of the best known and commercially applied tyre characteristics approximations (FTire, SWIFT). This will be the first time North America will hear from Prof Dr Michael Gipser, Professor at Esslingen University of Applied Sciences, Germany and Co-Founder and Owner-manager, Cosin Scientific Software and Antoine Schmeitz on TNO, Helmond on topics like theoretical background, parameterisation and adaptation based on measurements and corresponding software. We’re proud of this programme and are looking forward to the on-site discussions between all of the key players in the supply chain.

What do you think are the major developments that could have a defining impact on tyre technology in the coming five years?
Original Equipment (OE) tyre rolling resistance has progressed since its inception, from 25 kg/t all the way to around 5 or 6 kg/t today. These values are getting closer and closer to the rolling resistance coefficient for a railway wheel, which is around 1 or 2 kg/t. With the focus on vehicle development on fuel efficiency, the continuation of tyre development towards these numbers will drive new material development and design changes. As tyres push towards the railway wheel rolling resistance coefficients, significant innovation will be required to meet other performance requirements, including performing well in both wet and dry conditions.

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