A New Retreading, Recycling Direction
By John Stone
Once again it has been an active couple of months within the European tyre market with some of the leading manufacturers making headline news. Without any doubt the most significant news has to be the recent opening of a new revolutionary combined truck retreading and recycling plant in Germany by Continental. The ground-breaking plant in Hanover-Stöcken becomes the first tyre production unit in the world to provide cutting-edge retreading facilities for trucks and buses alongside a proprietary industry scale rubber recycling facility.
As part of the ContiLifeCycle programme, Continental’s technological expertise in creating this unique twin-functioned factory has already been recognised by the German Federal Ministry of Environment as an important environmental innovation. The main objective of the new plant is to take the ContiLifeCycle solution as close as possible to the production of a new tyre therefore pushing the boundaries of future truck tyre retreading and rubber recycling to a new level of excellence.
Part of the plant is devoted to the recycling facility which will develop a special process for the tread powder created during truck retreading and previously cured is subjected to a series of different processes to reverse the curing process so that the recycled material is of a high and controlled quality that it can be easily used for tyre compounding.
In fact it has been a very productive period for Continental as they also announced an ongoing joint venture with a technological institute to develop rubber from the dandelion flower which will be suitable for series tyre production in the future.
Bari plant plans
Elsewhere Bridgestone Europe has confirmed that its passenger tyre production plant in Bari, Italy will remain open but concentrate on producing tyres for general use. The company were also a main focal point at the recent Agritechnica 2013 Show in Germany where they showcased their extended range of agricultural tyres.
It has also been announced that Bandag has become Bridgestone’s retread brand and new sizes have recently been announced to the ECOPIA Highway truck range in their H-Steer, Drive and Trailer patterns and new Regional truck range. Finally Firestone as part of the Bridgestone group has upgraded its passenger car range to include the Firehawk SZ90 and SZ90 RFT patterns.
Over at Michelin they have introduced the world’s first 900m wide and 2.3 metres tall radial agricultural tyre – the AxioBib in size IF900/65R46. The company has also made a further capital investment in its German manufacturing plant in Bad Kreuznach and also launched the all new Michelin Concept Agri Tyre which will become available in due course. The tyre made its debut at the Agritechnica Show alongside the new SprayBib VF420/95R50 pattern which offers a number of size options including one that is unique to the crop conditioning segment.
The future of Goodyear’s Amiens Nord production facility in France still remains in the balance with conflicting reports of both imminent closure and a potential acquisition by Titan International. Last month protesting factory staff expressed their anger at the uncertain situation by blocking the entrance to the plant with a pile of ‘burning tyres’.
Whilst on the subject of France it is interesting to note a report that the main organisation that represents the French tyre industry has confirmed that there is a growing opinion in the French market that EU tyre labelling legislation has had little if any impact of customers buying tyres.