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Tyre industry: Improvements continue

Tyre industry: Improvements continue

By Louis Rumao:

Global demand for tyres is expected to grow from about 2.3 billion units in 2017, to 3 billion+ in the next 10 years, around 3% annual growth rate. Tyre industry is working relentlessly to market better value – cost + durability – to the motoring public

Collectors of the early 20th century classic cars often say that “they (auto OEM’s) do not make them like they used to.” If we take a nostalgic view, we may tend to agree with them. But if one prefers to be more practical than nostalgic, it becomes clear that they build them better now! Consider the case of Ford Model T, sold between 1909 and 1927. It is generally regarded as the FIRST affordable automobile – the car that opened travel to the common middle-class citizens in America. It was Ford’s first mass-produced vehicle built on a moving assembly line. It was affordably priced at $825 in 1909, and at $360 in 1927, thanks to higher production volume and improved efficiency.

So far, so good! But let us look at a PARTIAL list of recommended periodic maintenance for it.
Every 50 miles:
– Check for oil, water and fuel leaks
– Shake wheels to check for looseness
Every 200 miles:
– Lubricate numerous joints and components
– Test steering gear ball and socket joints for looseness
– Put kerosene in engine cylinders while hot
Every four hundred miles:
– Check and maintain several grease cups
– Check wiring for loose connections
– Test engine cylinder compression
– Check tyre inflation pressure
Every twelve hundred miles:
– Clean spark plugs and set gap to 1/32 inch
– Flush the cooling system
– Test front wheel alignment
– Check fan belt and repair cuts in tyres
Every five thousand miles:
– Put grease in gear case under steering wheel
– Tighten all body bolts
Thank god, they don’t build them like they used to! Presently, it is not uncommon to drive 1200 miles in less than 24 hours, and to think about all the maintenance needed if today’s cars were built like the good old days!

Current vehicle and tyre warranties:

A 1975 US law requires that any consumer product that costs more than $10 and comes with a warranty must be labeled either “full” or “limited.” The latter means that not everything about the product is covered and that the warranty does not span the life of the product. New car warranties are always limited, and come in two parts: bumper-to-bumper warranty, typically for 36-months, and powertrain warranty for 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. As implied by the “limited” caveat, parts subject to normal wear, and parts damaged due to negligence or accident are not covered.
New-car tyres are not covered by the OEM’s basic warranty. Instead, the warranty comes from the tyre manufacturer, typically six-years from the date of fitment or until there’s 2/32nd of an inch of tread left. If the tyre wears before the warranted miles, typically 50,000 to 80,000 miles, a pro-rated re-imbursement is made. Winter tyres and high-performance tyres are not covered under this generic warranty.
The workmanship & materials warranties protect consumers from any defect in the manufacturing or materials used in the tyre. Most manufacturers offer this coverage for the life of the tyre. “Workmanship and materials warranties imply that we stand behind the product, should you run into some issue,” says Ron Margadonna, Senior Marketing Manager at Michelin. Some of the problems that would be covered include severe cracking in the sidewall or the loss of a block of tread. “If there was something wrong with the tyre that we were at fault for, as a manufacturer, we stand behind our product,” says Margadonna.
OEM’s and tyre retailers typically offer optional road hazard warranties, at an additional cost, which come into play if a tyre is damaged or goes flat. If the tyre can be repaired, the repair is covered for the duration of the warranty. If the tyre can’t be repaired, the company will prorate the remaining mileage toward the purchase of a new tyre. Some retailers even throw in free tyre rotations for the duration of the warranty.

Industry trends – moving towards Smart Tyres!

Global demand for tyres is expected to grow from about 2.3 billion units in 2017, to 3 billion+ in the next 10 years, around 3% annual growth rate. Tyre industry is working relentlessly to market better value – cost + durability – to the motoring public.
Understandably, the tyre industry is very conservative, and manufacturers need to avoid risk arising from any radical changes to design, materials or manufacturing process. Therefore, introducing new technologies is carefully structured and based on thorough validation.

Computer-aided tyre design and performance prediction have already begun to show benefits, allowing companies to optimize traction, wear-resistance and fuel economy. The biggest need in this area of is for better thermal modeling of tyre performance, as it is difficult to dynamically simulate both the heating of the tyre and road interaction simultaneously. Significant progress has been made, both via modeling and testing, in understanding interactions between fillers and various elastomers, in order to lower rolling resistance of new compounds.
Tyre labeling and regulations over noise will become more prevalent, and the enhanced computer modeling will help the industry to accurately design for these needs. With cars getting smarter, there is a need for smart tyres as well, integrating tyre performance into vehicle’s system. Radio frequency identification (RFID) is being adopted rapidly in tyre manufacturing and will deliver more transparency, better control of materials and fewer production rejects. The use of vulcanizable RFID tags on tyres can manage traceability through the entire lifecycle from molding, vulcanization, on-road performance and finally for recycling of used tyres.

Tyre Recycling – a continuing challenge

There are over one billion end-of-life tyres generated annually, worldwide, and it is estimated that four billion unwanted end-of-life tyres exist in landfills and stockpiles. While an increasing number of scrap tyres are being recycled via retreading, tyre-derived fuel, civil engineering projects and ground-rubber applications, more needs to happen with growing cooperation between tyre manufacturers, recyclers and regulatory agencies. Innovative technologies for tyre recycling continue to emerge, as well as ideas for closing the loop on material recovery.
In conclusion, just as in the case of cars, tyre consumers agree – thank God, they do not build like they used to!

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