Tyre pressure easing

The short answer for the time being would appear to be “not much”. Expansions for factory production facilities that have been years in the planning stages are finally being mobilised, and innovation, research and development is continuing to maintain its momentum.One industry commentator told CIN’S sister publication Contractor Magazine that while the effect of the fluctuating economy largely remained to be seen, a small easing of demand on manufacturers could be a good thing.“It’s going to depend on whether some of the [mine] expansions go ahead,” he said. “I was really amazed at just how much commodity prices have been affected. But my gut feeling is that it’s going to ease the situation with tyres.” The commentator said that even before the market crashed in early to mid-October this year, he was expecting the demand for earthmoving tyres – especially in the large sizes – to ease slightly in 2009 and 2010 before demand strengthened again from 2011 onwards as new mining projects came online. “The question you’ve got to ask is: ‘Are we going to end up with an over supply of tyres?’ I think we’ve got a way to go, but who knows,” he said. “I’ve got a feeling that if existing mining projects continue, it’ll be okay.”With demand softening, and production on the rise, our source said there might even be a chance of demand and supply meeting halfway during the next couple of years – but whatever happened, the eventual outcome would be very difficult to predict given the volatility of commodity prices and the effect these were having on world markets. And regardless of what happens on this front, any expansion commitments among the major manufacturers will remain. By the end of this year, Bridgestone’s manufacturing plant on Japan’s main island of Shimonoseki will have been expanded to its full capacity.But that’s not where it will end – not by a long shot. In September, Bridgestone opened a new subsidiary in Peru called Bridgestone Off-The-Road Tire Peru. This new business unit is dedicated to handling the sales of tyres for mining and construction equipment in that country and its surrounds. Bridgestone has previously established a sales company in Chile specifically to handle sales and services for off-the-road tyres in Central and South America.However, Peru has been identified by Bridgestone as a key market due to continuing large-scale investment projects in that country’s mining industry. Bridgestone is also fully committed to the development of a new production facility at Kitakyushu, on the northern tip of Japan’s main southern island. The formation of the new subsidiary is a down-the-line measure that will complement Bridgestone’s plans to increase the capacity of large and ultra-large OTR radial tyres at the Kitakyushu plant, which is expected to begin production in 2009. Of course, Bridgestone is by no means alone in its front-footed approach to R&D. Michelin’s latest OTR offering is the X-Super Terrain for articulated dump trucks, which Michelin says has improved traction, better grip and more efficient self-cleaning. Michelin says the tread design of the tyre is deeper, more aggressive and more securely anchored than its predecessor, the Michelin XADT. This is in turn believed to increase the wear life (by 10-20%) and damage resistance (by 5-10%) of the tyre, thus improving its endurance and reducing the overall operating costs to run the tyre. Michelin said the optimised tread design of the X-Super Terrain makes for progressive ground contact and reduced vibration, improving not only comfort levels but working conditions for the driver. Michelin has also introduced its latest tyre for the quarrying industry, the X-Quarry S, which is an enhancement of the existing X-Quarry. The main advantage of the X-Quarry S is that it allows for a higher speed capability without compromising damage resistance or reducing the tread life of the tyre. This allows the operator to transport more tonnes per hour, at a lower cost, safely and trouble free. Michelin also said its tyres are fuel efficient because they have a minimal reducing rolling resistance (assuming they are inflated to their optimal pressures), thereby reducing fuel consumption which leads to fewer carbon emissions into the environment.

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