Harmonising Global Standards
By TA News Bureau
Dr Arup Kumar Chandra, a 33-year tyre and rubber technology veteran who was recently honoured in Malaysia for his contribution to develop globally acceptable standards for the rubber products industry, says harmonisation of standards is the need of the hour. Standards that are developed by experts of international bodies on rubber and rubber products such as ISO/TC 45 benefit the industry, including tyres. He, the present Head of Special Projects of Apollo Tyres, has a wealth of technical knowledge and R&D experience. In this interview he speaks of the work of ISO/TC 45 committee which met late last year in Kuala Lumpur where the Department of Standards of the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, along with the Chairman of ISO-TC-45 conferred on him the honour in recognition of his outstanding and long service work to ISO-TC- 45. Excerpts from the interview:
Can you explain the work on standardisation at the recent annual meeting of the ISO TC45 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?
This year the Technical Committee meeting of ISO-TC45 on Rubber and Rubber Products was held from Oct 30 to Nov 4, 2016. During the International Technical Committee meeting hosted by the National Standards Agency of Malaysia was attended by delegates from the P and O-member countries and representative of the ISO central secretariat. This committee had four sub-committees and sixteen working groups to develop standards through consensus.
What were the specific areas where agreements were reached?
We covered many important aspects of rubber and rubber products. They were Terminology (working group 10), Environmental issues such as disposal of rubber products and waste (working group 16), Hoses (rubber and plastics) i.e. industrial, chemical and oil hoses, automotive hoses and hydraulic hoses e.g. hoses used for LPG gas cylinders.
The committee also covered issues such as Testing and Analyses (sub-committee 2), Raw Materials (including latex) for use in the rubber industry i.e. latex, carbon black, natural rubber, synthetic rubber and non-black ingredients (sub -committee 3), products other than hoses i.e. rubber threads, sealing rings for pipes, gloves, material specifications, flexible and semi-rigid cellular materials, elastomeric isolators and coated fabrics (sub-committee 4). In each working group several points were discussed and in total hundreds of resolutions were passed at different working groups.
What are the economic advantages of developing a common framework for quality standards for rubber and the user industry?
Developing common standards ensure that national interests on test methods of raw materials and finished products are taken care during finalisation of the standards. It also involves effective coordination of the standardisation activities carried out at the national level with standardisation activities at the International level so that the member countries’ needs/interests are reflected in the International Standards. It helps enhance the process of harmonization of a country’s standards with the International Standards and thereby promoting trade as a whole.
The standardisation activity is directed towards serving the global market. It contributes to the elimination of trade barriers, while keeping close contact with the continuing changes in the industry and their requirements. It will facilitate exports and quality standing of the rubber industry of member countries in the global market.
Many countries have their own rubber standards. How can these be codified to develop globally acceptable standards?
It is true that most countries have their own standards that differ from country to country. However, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an independent, non-governmental global body with a membership of 163 national standards organisations. Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant International standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.
As rubber standards are developed for the industry, don’t they differ from country to country according to regional variations?
Every country has different standard e.g. USA has ASTM, Germany has DIN, Japan JIS, India BIS etc. These standards were initially developed based on country-specific need and as a result there were variations.
How important is standardisation of rubber, especially at this time when the rubber industry has become truly global?
Standardisation of rubber and harmonization of global standards are the need of the hour. It would facilitate the acceptance of the product globally. This is for the overall benefit of the industry and trade in rubber and rubber products.
As a renowned rubber and tyre expert and as a standardisation and quality specialist what do you think are the different parameters that are used while formulating standards for natural rubber and synthetic rubber for the tyre industry?
Natural rubber being naturally occurring materials, there are important parameters that need to be taken note of. It includes Initial Plasticity (Po), Plasticity Retention Index (PRI), Dirt & Ash Content, Nitrogen Content, Volatile Matter etc. Whereas for synthetic rubber, the most important parameters are Mooney Viscosity, Ash Content, Volatile Matter and parameters defining micro and macro structures of the polymer. Supplementary parameters like compounded properties in standard formulation are equally important to judge the performance of the polymer.
Can you explain the current trends in the development of natural and synthetic rubber that would have critical impact on tyre manufacturing in the context of autonomous electric/autonomous vehicles?
The world population is growing. The urban and middle class populations are growing even faster. People’s aspirations for mobility are heightening. As a result, the number of vehicles on roads is increasing day by day. With the traffic volume increasing, the world-wide energy demand will also rise as well. This is depleting earth’s resources very fast creating uncertainty for the future of sustainability. In order to overcome this, we have to reduce, reuse and recycle materials. This will be true for all kinds of vehicles, including the autonomous and electric. To reduce the mass of the product, a major area of focus will be bringing into use new materials and new reinforcements so that we can reduce the weight of the tyre. This will also help reduce rolling resistance which will continue to be a major R&D thrust.
To enhance sustainability, rubber will be made from biomass. This will be true for all general purpose rubber, be it synthetic copying the natural rubber molecule (synthetic poly-isoprene). To support recycling both polymer and vulcanization system need to be made reversible crosslink in nature .This will enable full tyre recycling. As a result there will be more focus on usage of thermoplastic elastomers replacing conventional natural and synthetic rubbers. The growing importance of developing different types of non-pneumatic tyres is typical examples of this. With the more usage of thermoplastic elastomers, the conventional tyre manufacturing will change.
Other changes in the development of natural and synthetic rubber will be based on tyre performance i.e., better wet skid and low rolling resistance. It will not demand major changes in manufacturing except the mixing and components preparation. However, that is already in place with those manufacturing high-performance tyres based on silica-silane and new generation S-SBR /BR blended with NR.