Tyre and rubber machinery retrofitting and upgrading

Tyre and rubber machinery retrofitting and upgrading

By Jacob Peled*:

Exactly 20 years ago in November 1998, I was invited to make a Presentation at ARTA (American Retread & tyre Association) – a major tyre event in Louisville, Kentucky. The subject was the future of tyre and rubber machinery refurbishing and whether it will continue to be worthwhile to do so with the emergence of low-cost equipment that started showing in the market, mainly from Taiwan, Korea and even some from China.

Jecob Peled

At this event, I predicted a major slump in machinery refurbishing, which will probably happen early in the new century. Unfortunately, this has occurred. Exactly 10 years ago at the Tire Technology Expo in Cologne, I was requested to discuss this particular subject again and I have predicted that the trend will change and with the abundance of low-cost equipment from China, that the more selective tyre industry would opt for either new machinery or rebuilt Western made machines in their expansions and particularly Greenfield projects.

Rebuilding equipment is actually recycling. Since the environment has become and continues to be such a major issue in our lives, many tyre companies have decided to retrofit and upgrade their own machinery, rather than scrapping them. There is no question that when you give a second life to a machine you save a great deal of energy, labour and material. Moreover, rebuilt machinery could often yield the same results as new at lower costs and considerably shorter delivery time.

At Pelmar Engineering we divide retrofitting into 3 Categories:

1. REFURBISHING: Complete cleaning and bringing the machine to working condition, utilizing almost entyrely the existing components.

2. OVERHAULING: An enhanced refurbishing which includes replacing some of the components and always adding new controls, bringing the machine back to its original specifications and operation.

3. REBUILDING: Complete taking apart of the machine or line, replacing most parts with new ones, even those that are only partially worn out. This Category can be considered the supply of a new machine.

Obviously, the decision on which Category to select is a combination of technical and commercial considerations, which Pelmar’s engineers have with the customer’s engineers. Budget plays an important role and more often than not, also delivery time.

The costs of the different Categories varies rather substantially. In comparison to new machinery of known Western origin brands.
The percentages are:
20% – 30% for refurbishing Compare to the price of new equipment
20% – 50% for overhauling Compare to the price of new equipment
50% – 70% for rebuilding Compare to the price of new equipment
In most cases, unless there is a difference of a minimum of 30%, the customer would prefer to buy a new machine. The difference is calculated between the present price of the original manufacturer and the cost of the rebuilt machine, not between lower priced machines from China for instance, and the original manufacturer. The 30% difference becomes very meaningful when there is a whole line of equipment to be replaced, or if there is only a short time between stoppage of and renewed production.

In recent years, Pelmar has been involved in numerous large rigging projects of dismantling and removal of equipment from one site to another on behalf of major tyre companies. These projects, in most cases, involve a high degree of retrofitting in one or more of the Categories mentioned above.

In 2008 and later in 2010 again at the TTE, I have envisaged a return to retrofitting and a lot of it to be done by the original manufacturers themselves. This is exactly what happened and now retrofitting is an important source of income to OEMs. At the same time, due to developments in the tyre and rubber industry, a lot of mainly Chinese and Taiwanese equipment penetrated mainly the markets of South East Asia, but also the markets in Europe and North America. Since than the quality, material and workmanship improved.

I was lately for a visit to India to a rubber company near Mumbai. The owner requested that we quote him two German 6” Extruders, which he uses for producing rather accurate and high-quality profiles. I mentioned to him that not too far away there is a manufacturer of new extruders, which would cost new approximately the same as what we have reconditioned. The owner took me into his plant where he had 9 extrusion lines, 2 of them were local and the rest Berstorff and Troester cold feed extruders, which we have supplied over the years, some of them around 40 years old. He stated that these extruders reconditioned by us last longer and are trouble free rather than the ones he buys locally new or imported from China. In my opinion, a lot of it has to do with better metallurgy, which has been developed over the last 150 years.

Another form of machinery retrofitting and overhauling are brownfields. I would like to refer you to a most interesting article written by Mr. Guido Veit of Zeppelin where he stated that rebuilding and renewal of older plants is often more intricate than designing and building a new one, but there is a strong element of saving and upgrading simultaneously. I fully agree with those statements and our Group’s experience is the same. We have recently completed a comprehensive rebuilding and installation of a 4 roll calender line for one of the very major tyre companies in their plant in East Europe and the line is operating perfectly, according to the owner, at less than 50% of the original investment program. The same was done at another major company in Egypt, but for a complete mixing line. These cases indicate clearly that not only a major investment is saved, but also time.

Last, but not least, we must recall that “retrofitting is recycling,” which is a must.

*Jacob Peled is the Founder and Executive Chairman of the Pelmar Group of companies, headquartered in Ramat Hasharon, Israel. For the last 50 years, the Pelmar Group has focused on technology, equipment, engineering, and promotion related to the tyre and rubber industry

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