News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

July 27, 2018

Bridgestone to invest $12 million in Illinois tire plant

Filed under: Tires — Tags: — Notch @ 3:52 pm

Bridgestone is investing $12 million to expand off-the-road production at its plant in Bloomington, Ill. The plant will produce multiple sizes and patterns in 29, 33 and 35-inch OTR tires, which until now have only been produced by Bridgestone in Japan.

This investment also includes increasing the workforce at the Bloomington plant by 30 employees. The last major investment in the plant was $48 million for a radial and giant loader expansion in 2011 and 2014.

“This investment is about increasing our flexibility to produce high-quality radial or bias tires — whatever our customers demand,” said Monty Greutman, plant manager at Bloomington. “It will allow us to deliver on our global commitment to develop innovative new products that will meet our customers’ needs, but it wouldn’t be possible without the outstanding teammates we have here today— some of whom have worked here for decades.”

Read the full press release here.

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July 12, 2018

Linglong breaks ground on 4th tire plant in China

Filed under: Tires — Tags: — Notch @ 11:22 am

China’s Shandong Linglong Tire recently held a ground breaking ceremony for its fourth facility at its Hubei Linglong Tire 247-acre site in China.

Its projected production capacities are 12 million passenger tires, 2.4 million truck/bus tires and 60,000 OTR tires.

Yantai, China-based Linglong announced its plans for the $875 million project last March.

According to Linglong, the plant will integrate intelligent manufacturing, product lifecycle management, industrial big data application and a high-end brand. The company wants to “break through regional restriction” and serve customers at zero distance, while improving market share and reducing logistics costs.

Referenced article found here.

July 4, 2018

Wanli puts U.S. plant plans on hold

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 12:58 pm

China’s Guangzhou Vanlead Group Co. Ltd. has put on hold indefinitely plans it announced a year ago to invest $1 billion in a tire plant in South Carolina.

Guangzhou Vanlead, a China state-owned entity that controls Wanli Tire Group, had proposed building a tire plant in Orangeburg County, S.C., capable of producing 6 million consumer tires annually in the eight-year project’s first phase.

Sources at the Orangeburg County Development Commission (OCDC) confirmed recently that the project is in “neutral,” although the OCDC hasn’t ruled out completely that it may still come to fruition. The commission has begun showing other prospective clients the as-yet unidentified plot of land that the Wanli plant was supposed to occupy.

A Wanli source in China confirmed the project’s status, saying the company is evaluating alternative locations in Southeast Asia and Middle/Eastern Europe.

Referenced article found here.

Bridgestone announces hybrid-polymer breakthrough

Filed under: Rubber Chemicals, Tires — Notch @ 12:04 pm

Bridgestone Corp. has announced it has developed a way to bond rubber and resins at the molecular level into a hybrid polymer, a development that shows promise for reducing the amount of polymeric materials needed in tires.

The new polymer, “high strength rubber” (HSR), is described as a hybrid material: bonding synthetic-rubber components such as butadiene and isoprene with resin components such as ethylene at the molecular level. Bridgestone claims it offers “unprecedented durability” with crack-resistance of over five times greater, abrasion resistance over 2.5 times greater, and tensile strength more than 1.5 times greater than natural rubber.

The production process uses Bridgestone’s proprietary gadolinium (Gd) catalyst via copolymerization. The company said it developed the polymer by “further evolving” Gd catalyst technologies used to synthesize polyisoprene rubber.

Target applications, noted Bridgestone, include tires with higher performance and less material than current-generation tires.

The company also anticipates that HSR will help it meet its goal of converting to 100-percent sustainable materials set for 2050.

Read the full press release here.

July 3, 2018

Sustainable materials key to vehicle, tire industry growth

Filed under: Tire Recycling, Tires — Notch @ 3:22 pm

Finding new, sustainable materials for automobiles and auto parts is a crucial part of developing breakthrough solutions for future mobility, Group Michelin and Ford Motor Co. executives said at the recent Movin’On 2018 conference in Montreal.

With the increase in consumers numbering in the billions in the coming decade, there will also be a “tremendous increase in demand for raw materials in the automotive sector, but traditional materials such as natural rubber, steel and petroleum feedstocks for synthetic rubber are in finite supply,” said Francois Masson, leader of Michelin’s recycling program.

“The traditional production model is very linear,” he said. “You make products, you use them, and you dispose of them. We must reconsider that model.”

“The goal is to discover how to increase the uptake of sustainable materials,” he said. “In the design of new mobility products, we need a more sustainable, circular economic model with shorter-loop recycling.”

According to Deborah Mielewski, senior technical leader, materials sustainability at Ford, Ford has always been in the vanguard of researching sustainable materials, beginning with Henry Ford himself.

“Henry Ford believed that agriculture and industry should work together in the development of plant-based materials,” she said. “Once a great idea, always a great idea.”

Historically, Ford has used soybeans in car parts and agricultural byproducts such as wheat straw for steering wheels. Soybeans and wheat straw are far from the only plant-based products Ford uses today, the Ford exec said. The auto maker uses coconut hulls for truck mats, cellulose from tree fiber, pulp from the lumber industry, flax fiber, and rice hulls for parts in the F-150 pickup, she said. “There’s a huge excess of tomato seeds and peels from the tomato processing industry,” she said. “We’re drying that material and using it as a reinforcing fiber in plastics.”

Ford is also collaborating with companies in other industries, such as Coca-Cola Co. and Nike Inc., and Tequila Cuervo La Rojeña, S.A. de C.V, Ms. Mielewski said.

Referenced article found here.

Michelin cites Lehigh as critical retread business supplier

Filed under: Tire Recycling, Tires — Notch @ 2:18 pm

Over the past decade, Michelin has been incorporating recycled powdered rubber into the tread rubber used by its licensed retreaders, in order to increase the sustainable material content of its tires. During that time, Michelin has worked with Lehigh Technologies L.L.C., the Tucker, Ga.-based producer of what it calls “Micronized Rubber Powders” (MRP), which Michelin acquired last October as part of its drive toward more sustainability.

Michelin plans to be the global leader in using MRP in new tires. Working with Lehigh ensures that supply chain efficiencies are maximized and that the specification of the materials fits the performance requirements of the retread compounds.

“Michelin and our customers will continue to benefit from the implementation of this closed-loop approach, where tires are recycled into tires, with Lehigh Technologies,” according to Gary Scheide, responsible for materials manufacturing for Michelin North America.

Michelin outlined its sustainability goals at the Movin’ On 2018 conference. Read more here.

June 27, 2018

Game Changing Technology: The tires of tomorrow

Filed under: Run-flats, Tires — Notch @ 11:30 am

How does the tire industry perceive the tire of tomorrow? What are the game-changing aspects of tire design? Pneumatic vs. non-pneumatic? Trends in materials development? And weight? For answers, Rubber & Plastics News surveyed several major tire makers, including Bridgestone, Continental, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Goodyear, Hankook Tire USA, Michelin, Pirelli, and Sumitomo.

All these companies recognize the three mega-trends impacting future tire evolution: eco-friendly vehicles, autonomous vehicle technology, and ride-sharing.

Pierluigi de Cancellis, Pirelli executive vice president technology sums up the five criteria driving innovation:

1. Rolling Resistance: Further reduction in rolling resistance (not only in “free rolling” condition but also and especially in actual driving condition, i.e. braking, cornering, etc.) and hence in energy economy as a consequence also of electric/hybrid vehicle diffusion and the related need for battery autonomy extension.
2. Extended Mobility: Adoption of advanced solutions for the tire puncture problem (e.g. self-sealing tires, runflat tires) as a technology enabling also shared mobility and autonomous driving.
3. Connectivity: Application of sensor technology to development of “intelligent” tires and the use of data collection for enabling different services. The collection and processing of data regarding many aspects of the tire performance and road conditions is useful for optimizing overall tire performance and safety and minimizing energy consumption, a topic of growing importance, especially with regard to electric and hybrid vehicles.
4. Weight: Tire weight is targeted to be reduced in order to improve overall vehicle efficiency.
5. Noise: Due to vehicle evolution, including the diffusion of hybrid/electric cars, tire noise reduction will more and more become a key target.

May 28, 2018

Saudi NTC to work with Samsung on $1.6 billion tire project

Filed under: Tires — Tags: — Notch @ 5:03 pm

Saudi Arabian National Tire Co. (NTC) has awarded a contract to South Korea’s Samsung Engineering for the engineering, procurement, and construction of its planned $1.6 billion tire plant in Saudi Arabia.

NTC plans to build the factory in Jubail, an industrial city in the eastern part of the kingdom on the Persian Gulf. Production is expected to start by year-end 2020. The plant will be rated at 20 million units a year capacity, with a staff of about 4,000 employees.

NTC is an initiative of Fahad Bin Abdul-Rahman Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family.

Triangle clears government hurdles for funding of new U.S. tire plants

Filed under: Tires — Tags: — Notch @ 3:56 pm

China’s Triangle Group Co. Ltd. is one step closer to breaking ground on its passenger and light truck tire factory in Edgecombe County, east of Rocky Mount, N.C.

The government in China signed off on agreements and approvals to fund the first phase of the $580 million project, a passenger and light truck tire plant with capacity for 6 million tires annually, according to Manny Cicero, CEO of Triangle Tire USA, and Marketing Director Mary Ma. All that remains is the securing of several site permits, including one for air quality, before construction can commence, they said in an interview at the company’s office in Franklin on May 22.

Triangle announced late last year that it plans to build two tire plants in the U.S. on a 1,449-acre plot of land in Edgecombe County. Phase one will be a passenger and light truck tire plant. Groundbreaking for the second plant, a 1 million tire capacity truck and bus tire facility, will begin six months after the start of construction on the first plant. The factories will share a rubber mixing facility located between them, Cicero said.

The target date for phase one completion is April 2020.

Referenced article found here.

May 18, 2018

Michelin introduces Tweel for ultra-terrain vehicles

Filed under: Run-flats, Tires — Notch @ 12:51 pm

Rubber & Plastics News reports that Michelin North America Inc. has developed a 26-inch version of its non-pneumatic Tweel tire/wheel hybrid for use on ultra-terrain vehicles. Michelin Tweel Technologies, an MNA division, says the X Tweel UTV is intended for use in debris-laden areas including construction, agriculture, mining, emergency response and park sites. The X Tweel UTV was originally designed for light-tactical vehicles used in military operations. The wheel is a single unit that replaces the vehicles’ pneumatic tire/wheel/valve assemblies, Michelin said. The Tweel unit also eliminates the need to carry spare tires, tools or repair kits.

I spotted these tires “in the field” a few weeks ago when I was watching the season 2 premier of HBO’s Westworld. I took these screenshots. (Yes, I watch sci-fi shows for the tires — maybe I’ve been doing this job too long.)

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 11.45.14 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 1. Screenshot from Westworld, season 2, episode 1, “Journey into Night,” written by Lisa Joy & Roberto Patino, directed by Richard J. Lewis, airdate April 22, 2018, Home Box Office, Inc.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 11.45.34 PM
Fig 2. Screenshot (detail) from Westworld, season 2, episode 1, “Journey into Night,” written by Lisa Joy & Roberto Patino, directed by Richard J. Lewis, airdate April 22, 2018, Home Box Office, Inc.

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