Sri Lanka: Solid all the way
By Hemantha Wattegedara *:
Sri Lanka is the Solid tyre hub of the world. It remains the world’s largest Solid tyre manufacturer and supplies around 25 per cent of global Solid tyre demand
Rubber industry in Sri Lanka is enriched with a rich history pertaining to plantation. As history be told, the first rubber seed was planted at the Henerathgoda Botanical Gardens in Gampaha, Sri Lanka, giving rise to the rubber industry in Sri Lanka in the year 1876. Initially, the plantation was propagated in wet zone as traditional regions, several studies were conducted in the past 15 years in relation to whether rubber can be planted in non-traditional areas like Monaragala, Kilinochchi, Padiyathalawa and Hambanthota. By the year 2016, natural rubber consumption was recorded around 150,000 metric tons and around 80% was used to manufacture rubber product. In early 1970s, around 80% of total natural rubber harvest was exported as raw material and the statistic was completely changed with the expansion of the Rubber product manufacturing sector in Sri Lanka. The high quality natural rubber is used in highly profitable rubber product manufacturing and the rubber products have large market potential in the world. Rubber products are the third largest export income source in Sri Lanka and its manufacturing sector can be classified broadly into two such as, latex based products and dry rubber based products. Latex based products are different types of gloves, mattresses, swim caps, condoms, balloons etc. and Dry rubber based products are tyres, shoes, floor mat, belts conveyer, engine mounts, bridge bearing etc.
Solid tyre hub
History of Sri Lanka tyre industry dates back to1950’s as it began as tyre re-treading industry. After introduction of free trade policies and investment promotion zones in late 1970, the industry was rapidly expanded. Today most of the world’s international solid tyre manufacturing groups have set up plants in Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka has become as Solid tyre hub in the world. It remains the world’s largest Solid tyre manufacturer and supplies around 25 per cent of global Solid tyre demand. Sri Lanka’s Solid tyre industry is dominated by private sectors and majority of them are joint ventures or direct foreign investment.
Solid tyre is an older version, which is revolutionarily overtaken by Pneumatic Tyre. However Solid Tyre still plays an important role as they are used in a unique variety of industrial applications owing to their special features. Solid tyres are extremely stable, puncture-resistant, and maintenance-free. They have a high load bearing capacity in extreme service condition. Also, it is extremely economical. These features make them ideal for forklift trucks, airport vehicles, heavy-duty transport vehicles, platform trucks, and other industrial vehicles.
Solid tyres are broadly classified into three main categories, namely, Resilient tyres, Press-on tyres and Cured-on tyres.
Resilient tyre is a solid rubber block with two layer or three layer constructions. Two layer resilient tyre is built from an inner heel layer comprised of a hard rubber compound and an outer tread layer made of an abrasion resistance rubber compound for long tyre life. The three layer resilient tyre features a third middle layer. Here a special, soft rubber compound layer is added to maximize shock absorption to mimic the cushioning of a pneumatic and reduce internal tyre temperature.
A Press-On-band tyre is typically made from a single rubber compound that’s bonded to a steel band which is pressed as interference fit onto a wheel. Press-On tyres equipped machines are popular due to their ability to handle higher load with greater stability compared to a similar sized resilient or pneumatic tyre. These Press-On tyres are widely used in airport ground support equipment. Passenger boarding bridges are common devices placed in every airport and they are mostly comprised of press-on tyres. These boarding bridges are movable connectors that extend from an airport gate to an airplane. Therefore, the tyres which are used in boarding bridges require high load and high strain bearing capability. Hence, specially formulated rubber compounds are used in the manufacture of these tyres.
The Cured-on tyre is molded or vulcanized directly to the wheel casing, forming an integral unit which is attached to the axle. When a cured-on tyre is worn out, the entire wheel must be replaced. Cured-on tyres are used for the free-rolling wheels and normally do not have a tread pattern.
Non-marking tyre is one of the most technically specified tyres made in Sri Lanka and it is available all three categories in white or gray or green colors. The non-marking tyres does not makes marks on the grounds and suitable for hygienic indoor application such pharmaceutical, food, paper, textile manufacturing facilities. Further, non-marking tyres have no anti-static properties meaning that when being used close to flammable materials or explosives they need to be fitted with earthing straps. Although it can be observed as a limitation in non-marking tyres but One of the leading Sri Lankan tyre manufacturer comes with a fantastic innovation to eliminate the limitation. It helps them to maintain the competitiveness leading towards both expand existing market and capture the new avenues.
Specially engineered aperture tyre is another revolutionary product in Sri Lankan Solid tyre industry and the tyre provides the same ride & comport as that of a pneumatic tyre and offer an excellent cushioning effect with zero down time. The aperture tyres are less in material consumption compared to conventional solid tyres and light weight tyres influence positive performance on the vehicle. It is economically superior product.
*Hemantha Wattegedara is Director – Product Development, at Camso Loadstar Pvt Ltd, Sri Lanka