Indian off-highway machine tyre manufacturer BKT says its EARTHMAX SR 49 - in the 35/65 R 33 size and now in a new three-star version - has been officially tested and developed at the Carrara marble quarries in Tuscany, Italy From a technical viewpoint, the world-renowned marble quarries are among the most difficult and complex places in which to work.
Guglielmo Vennai, a specialist marble extraction company, was the first Carrara marble quarries-based business to use BKT EARTHMAX SR 49 tyres, fitted on a CAT 988K wheeled loader. The innovative company was keen to put the EARTHMAX SR 49 tyres to the test given its management’s desire to try out new products that could help optimise production efficiency.
A key role has been played by the local BKT distributor, Codega Pneumatici, who understood Guglielmo Vennai’s needs.
Tyres suited to quarry operations have specific characteristics. In addition, quarry loading and hauling models are larger and more powerful than standard off-highway construction, earthmoving and port-handling models. However, the size of the wheeled loaders and articulated and rigid haulers’ tyres has stayed the same, so the radial tyres used in these environments have been strengthened over time, going from one to two or three stars. This enables the tyres to resist enormous stress, while maintaining invaluable qualities of stability, traction, and resistance to wear and tear.
The need for robust, high-quality tyres for quarrying customers is how BKT’s EARTHMAX SR 49 came into being, firstly in 35/65 R 33 size and two-star standard. After being put to the test by Guglielmo Vennai and other quarry operators, and after listening to their feedback, BKT developed a three-star product.
The EARTHMAX SR 49 three-star tyre’s housing was strengthened by inserting more steel wires, making it more resistant and thicker, in order to withstand higher air pressure. All this translated into a higher load capacity which was more suited to quarrying needs.
The three-star tyre tread is classified L4, at around 60mm thickness. In the future it could also be manufactured as L5 with consequent advantages in terms of resistance to wear and tear. Even with the housing of an L4 tread, it is slightly larger and has greater air capacity, thus offering better grip and more stability, essential qualities for demanding work synonymous with quarrying.
The result of these ongoing design adjustments is immediately visible. The 988K CAT wheeled loader, despite the huge size and weight of the marble blocks, is said by BKT to move incredibly easily.
This is confirmed by Guglielmo Vennai’s CAT 988K operator, Luigi Boncelli, who has been testing the new EARTHMAX SR 49 version. He said: “The use of BKT tyres is proving very positive and a quality choice. With the block of marble loaded, in this three-star version I found more traction on dry ground and only a little roll on the vehicle which, however, performs very well. Compared to the previous test, which was done with a two-star tyre, I can feel the tyres are much more stable and perform better. When loaded, there is both traction and stability, even when going downhill.”
The EARTHMAX SR 49 three-star tyres test at the Carrara quarries aims to take the tyres through to their life end, which Equipped with state-of-the-art tyre-building machinery and automated devices, it is designed to deliver cutting-edge radial tyres while following the highest ergonomic standards. Once at full speed, the production lines will deliver three earthmoving tyre lines and another three port tyre lines.
Besides the new production facilities, the research and development centre in Lousado is being expanded and will be used for continuous performance and quality tests of all agricultural, port and earthmoving tyres. “This investment strengthens our footprint in Lousado and transforms the top-efficiency plant into a competence centre for big radial tyres for off-road use”, concludes Kötz.
To date, the Portuguese plant employs more than 2,000 people. In addition to earthmoving, agricultural and port tyres, Lousado also manufactures passenger car tyres with annual production of around 18 million tyres.
Serial Lousado production of Continental’s EM tyre lines (EM-Master, RDT-Master and DumperMaster, all suited to quarrying and aggregates applications) will begin in 2020.
In recent years, Continental has invested around €150mn in increasing the production of passenger car tyres, expanding high-performance tyre production and ramping-up the production of agricultural tyres in Lousado. Investments like these are in response to Continental’s long-term ‘Vision 2025’ strategy. In addition to investments in Lousado, Continental has invested in various facility expansions and technology offerings including the Commercial Vehicle Tyre Plant in Clinton, Mississippi, USA; capacity extensions in other existing tyre plants, such as Sumter, South Carolina, USA, and projects like the Automated Indoor Braking Analyser at the company’s Contidrom Proving Grounds near Hanover, Germany; the new testing centre in Uvalde, Texas, USA; and the High Performance Technology Centre in Korbach, Germany.
Michelin has introduced a new generation of tyre, suitable for the aggregates and quarrying sector, which has been designed to extend tyre life, improve traction and deliver better comfort and stability versus the generation of products they replace. Optimised for fitment to loaders, articulated dump trucks and graders, the new Michelin Xtra FlexLife range was launched in July this year in 29.5 R25 and 875/65 R29 sizes for the original equipment and replacement markets, with an additional five sizes set to join the line-up in 2020.
The new tyres get their name thanks to Michelin’s flexible design, which allows dealers to stock a single range for use across three vehicle types – with each new tyre replacing two older products.
Their launch sees operators benefit from a tread pattern which evolves with wear, to ensure optimum traction is maintained over a long service life. Uniquely, the look of the new tread pattern was selected following close consultation with 60 major customers from markets around the world.
Annika Girod, Michelin’s segment manager Off-Highway Transportation North Europe, explains: “We’re bringing something really special to market with the Xtra FlexLife launch; a direct impact of the more than €600m we invest in research and development every year.
“The new Xtra FlexLife range will give machinery manufacturers and customers a genuine competitive edge and an impressive new look – with as much as 25% more rubber in the tread to wear down. In testing, we’ve seen tyre life increased by up to 20% on loaders and 10% on articulated dump trucks, versus our previous generation tyres – and that’s just one of the many performance advantages.”
Another benefit introduced with the new tyres is greater comfort and stability, thanks to the ability to run the Michelin Xtra FlexLife tyres at reduced pressures versus the products they replace – typically around 14.5psi lower on loaders, and 11psi lower on articulated dump trucks. As well as ensuring a smoother ride for the driver, reduced machine vibration cuts wear and tear on the vehicle and supports a longer life in service – delivering notable efficiency improvements for the operator.
Volvo, one of several manufacturers involved in the design and testing of the Xtra FlexLife, is already offering the new tyres as original equipment.
The five additional sizes due to launch next year include the 23.5 R25, 26.5 R25, 750/65 R29, 775/65 R29 and 20.5 R25.
Since establishing its Middle East office in 2016, Magna Tyres Group has reported a 300% increase in turnover in the region as a result of new distributor and dealer appointments and annual contracts with end users, namely sea ports and fleet operators. The regional headquarters based in the UAE provides product, sales and after-sales support for the Middle East and Africa region. In 2018, Magna Tyres started the production of the new ‘Made in Holland’ tyres at the Hardenberg factory in The Netherlands. New capacity was added to keep up with the fast-growing demand for the popular 17.5R25, 20.5R25, 23.5R25, 26.5R25 and 29.5R25 OTR sizes.
Vijay Nambiar, general manager, Magna Tyres Middle East & Africa, said: ‘’Last year, Magna Tyres introduced more than 40 distinct sizes in seven patterns, adding them to the extensive product list to match the requirements of the construction market in the Middle East. We signed a global framework purchase agreement with one of the world’s leading port-operating facilities which has operations in 74 ports. We also renewed our annual supply contract with Al Faris Group.’’