ERJ staff report (DS)
Cologne, Germany -- This year's Tire Technology awards made a brave step towards recognising real contributions to the tyre industry.
The winners included Michelin, Lanxess, Kumho, Sumitomo and Goodyear. While the reasoning behind the awards may have been convoluted, the winners deserved recognition.
Michelin won the award for tyre company of the year. The citation listed its restructuring in France. Its investments in China and India were not mentioned, even though the company's radial truck tyre plant in India has led to a spate of investments by domestic suppliers to the industry, which has kept a number of machinery suppliers in credit this year.
Goodyear won the award for environmental contributionof the year, for its BioIsoprene innovation shown at the Copenhagen summit in December 2009. Aside from the fact that BioIsoprene was developed by Genencor, the thinking makes sense. While BioIsoprene makes no contribution today, the thinking and philosophy may drive more of a change towards non fossil-fuel-derived monomers in the future.
Kumho's laser etching system for tread patterns won the tyre innovation of the year. While this is more cosmetic than commercial or production oriented, it shows one way toward the future. A young, innovative engineer developed the process. Accepting the award, Roger Jenkins, head of Kumho's European technical centre said it showed that even a young company can contribute to creative innovation in the tyre sector.
Lanxess won the award for tyre supplier of the year. An award justified by the raw fact of being the world's largest supplier of synthetic rubber, but also by Lanxess continuing commitment to supporting the tyre industry through investments, such as the butyl plant in Singapore, the technical centre in Qingdao and the evolution of functionalised synthetic polymers.
Sumitomo won innovation of the year for its latest generation of runflat tyre, featuring a new internal construction and external heat transfer featuires.