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Digital drives OTR market

First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
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The Continental Tyres C-Logger digital system for tyre servicing
Increased uptake of digital technology is likely to underpin continued expansion in the OTR tyre market through to 2020. Liam McLoughlin reports.

The global market for off the road (OTR) tyres is expanding, driven by factors including digitisation, automation and connectivity.

The sector was worth over 3.7 million tonnes in 2017 (equivalent to a value of US$24.8billion) according to a report by Smithers Rapra. The tyre industry analyst predicts the global market will show an overall five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% to 2022 in volume terms, and 5.2% per year in value terms (reflecting likely price increases and greater value added).

“The machinery equipment market for the entire earthmoving segment including construction, surface and underground mining remains growing,” says Christian Luther, head of technical customer service at German manufacturer Continental Tyres. “In particular, we see an increasingly strong demand from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs ) – in Europe but especially in the US – for tyres fitted on loaders and hauling equipment. This is proven by the latest figures from the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) in the US and the European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA).”

He adds that digital technology is increasingly important in the OTR sector as it can help provide a solution to issues such as underinflated tyres, which are still a major cause of breakdowns and service calls.

“On average, one third of fleet tyres are underinflated,” Luther says. “This not only has an effect on fuel consumption but also on the tyre life – with 10% underinflation, tread life is reduced by 15% and casing life by 20%. With 20% underinflation, casing life is reduced by up to 30%.”

To ensure the correct tyre pressure and temperature, Continental has developed the ContiPressureCheck and ContiConnect digital tyre pressure monitoring systems. Using sensors mounted on the inner liner of the tyre, the systems monitor, analyse and report data on tyre temperature and pressure to help optimise fleet efficiency.

The ContiPressureCheck system displays the tyre sensor’s data in the driver’s cabin or on the handheld device and warns before a condition becomes critical. ContiConnect is Continental’s solution for monitoring tyre pressure and temperature remotely, which the company says takes digital tyre monitoring to the next level. The solution monitors multiple vehicles and helps fleet managers switch from inflexible manual service routines to targeted, real-time maintenance.

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Christian Luther, product line manager earthmoving and head of technical customer service at Continental Tyres
Luther identifies servitisation as a further significant trend in the OTR sector. This approach to servicing combines tyre application logging hardware with the software of a digital solution to bring information to customers in a quick and economical way.

“OTR tyres are unique due to their overall size and the substantial mass of rubber components,” says Luther. “In quarries, tyres have to cope with the harshest conditions. For this reason, each set of tyres has its own particular requirements in terms of load, speed, distance and air pressure. However, personalised field testing of OTR tyres can be costly, time and labour intensive - time, money and capacities that most quarry operators are not able or willing to spend.”

To address this Continental has introduced the C-Logger service. It uses a team of experienced field engineers that run site studies with the help of the C-Logger tool, a device measuring speed, road grade, distance, cycle downtime, lateral forces and temperature. The team consults the customer in their tyre decision and tracks the performance of the selected tyres.

As an example of the requirements of quarry operators, Luther says that abrasive ground conditions with sharp stones call for tyres equipped with tread and sidewall compounds that are resistant to chips, chunks and cuts. In addition, closed tread designs ensure the protection of the carcass of the tyre against damage by stones and other sharp material.

“Depending on the layout of the quarry, other customers may also require tyres with high traction as tractive force is key to efficiently haul material, especially on muddy or sandy surfaces,” says Luther. “This is why  Continental offers a comprehensive range of tyres with different constructions and tread pattern designs, such as the EM-Master which is available as E3/L3 for muddy and soft terrains and E4/L4 for rocky surfaces.”

The C-Logger service is used by a limestone quarry in the US, where it was found that trucks were running too fast and were doing sharp corners. This resulted in mechanical separations, irregular wear and bead erosion. Continental says that following consultations between the quarry and its team, the route and speed were adjusted, which increased the lifetime and productivity of the tyre significantly and enabled capacity uptake to be increased while operating costs were lowered.

Magna Tyres Group has nearly doubled production capacity of its tyre range for wheeled loaders and dumpers at the Hardenberg plant in the Netherlands.

The OTR tyre specialist says the new capacity was added to keep up with rapidly growing demand for the 26.5R25 and 29.5R25 OTR sizes.

The 29.5R25 Magna MA02 is an E3+/L3+ tyre designed for wheeled loaders, dumpers, scrapers and bulldozers. The wide shoulders increase the contact surface for more traction. The rubber compound, which Magna uses for all OTR tyres, is designed to offer the best protection against chip & chunk and tread wear. There is reinforced shoulder and sidewall protection to offer resistance against impacts. The carcass is all-steel radial and the construction features improved belt layers to enhance comfort and heat build-up resistance, thus prolonging service life.

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An OBO tyre press at the Magna Tyres Group plant in Hardenberg
The 26.5R25 Magna M-Terrain is an E4 tyre designed for heavy dumper applications in excavations, day mines, scrap processing sites and for transports in underground mines. It has the same wide shoulder area as the MA02 to provide grip in challenging off-road conditions.The expansion in production comes just six months after the Hardenberg facility opened in early 2018.

Responding to the digital transformation in the OTR vehicle and equipment industry, US-based Goodyear has recently introduced two new digital innovations that are intended to help OTR fleets reduce their total cost of ownership.

Goodyear Proactive Solutions TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) Heavy Duty is a data-based solution enabling precise, real-time monitoring of tyres that, in combination with Goodyear premium tyres and services, is designed to help OTR fleets optimise tyre performance, reduce downtime and improve total cost of ownership. The company says TPMS prevents tyre-related incidents, resulting in reduced machine downtime, less breakdown costs and up to 15% more working hours due to tyres having the right pressure at all times.  

Goodyear has also launched an enhanced version of its EMTrack OTR tyre performance monitoring system. The company says it enables faster, even more accurate collection of critical tyre data including tread depth, inflation levels and other indicators, helping optimise tyre service life, as well as assisting with OTR tyre forecasting and budgeting.

Major consolidation took place in the OTR market in July when Michelin bought Quebec, Canada-based off-highway tyre maker Camso. Michelin says the US$1.45bn acquisition – scheduled to complete in November 2018 – creates “the world leader” in the fast-growing OTR mobility solutions market. Camso has annual net sales of US$1billion with a strong market presence in rubber track systems and solid tyres. It has production facilities in Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

The two companies’ OTR operations are being combined to form a new division to be managed from Quebec.

Meanwhile, Camso has appointed Industrial Tyre Specialists (ITS) as its aftermarket distributor for Ireland. ITS will supply Camso’s full line-up of construction and material handling products to Irish customers.

“Industrial Tyre Specialists is a strong quality-oriented company which places a high priority on customer satisfaction and second to none service levels,” says Stephen Payne, aftermarket sales director UK & Ireland for Camso. “These are values that fit perfectly with ours and we look forward to developing our application-specific product and service offering to the market with them.”

ITS is a family-run business established for over 30 years as an industrial tyres and service provider in Ireland.  With two mobile tyre units on the road, four specially designed industrial presses, other presses strategically placed throughout Ireland and a wheel  exchange programme with next day delivery nationwide, the firm says it will be able to assist Camso customers seeking lowest operating cost solutions.

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BKT chairman and MD Arvind Poddar is to be inducted into the TIA Hall of Fame
Indian global off-highway tyre maker BKT says the future of its OTR tyre products is being fuelled by innovation which is focused on three main areas: technology, sustainable raw materials and nanomaterials.

In terms of technology, the company has started research into solutions for sensor-assisted autonomous transportation, enhanced tyre and equipment integration systems, data flow and analytics optimisation for increased productivity. “All this [is] a response to new trends in terms of equipment, fleet and site management, sustainability, diverse mobility, electrification and safety,” the company says.

As part of its efforts towards the use of sustainable raw materials, BKT is conducting joint research with US biotechnology company KULTEVAT, which specialises in the cultivation and processing of the raw material TKS Dandelion as a renewable and sustainable alternative for natural rubber. Based on the research, BKT says it plans to develop new compounding methods to be integrated in the tyre manufacturing process, and that TKS rubber will gradually replace the use of natural rubber.

BKT is also working on the development of high-performance compounds by means of nanomaterials or nanocomposites – materials in which at least one dimension is sized below 100 nanometres. Blending a nanomaterial with other materials enables a nanocomposite to be obtained, which BKT says exhibits significantly different properties to the main material alone, leading to enhanced performance such as thermal or mechanical stability. As an example it cites its research and experiments into graphene. BKT says graphene is the thinnest, strongest and most conductive material in the world in terms of both electricity and heat. “In the tyre manufacturing process, graphene provides increased wear and puncture resistance, higher tensile strength as well as improved rolling resistance, and extraordinary durability,” the company adds.

BKT chairman and managing director Arvind Poddar is to be inducted into the Tire Industry Association’s (TIA) Hall of Fame. He will be inducted during the Tire Industry Honours Awards Ceremony event being staged at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel on 29 October 2018, one day before the opening of the 2018 SEMA Show, the automotive specialty and aftermarket fair, held in Las Vegas, USA. Poddar was among a number of Hall of Fame honorees announced by Roy Littlefield, executive vice-president of the TIA. The Hall of Fame Award is the TIA’s highest honour and one of the most prestigious accolades of the world tyre industry.

Italian tyre retread manufacturer TRM (Tyre Retreading Machinery) has presented a new line of automated retreading equipment for the US market called Latitude. The equipment features a robotic buffer that TRM says increases the productivity of an operator by up to 100%. While the robotic arm buffs the tyre on the first chuck, the operator can work on the second one loading and unloading tyres, measuring parameters and setting up the machinery to buff the next tyre.

Besides the buffer, a new pressure tester and a tread builder have been demonstrated to US customers, focusing on the main characteristics of robustness, practice and low cycle time.

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