British railway companies still live in the shadow of a bad reputation earned over previous decades for late-running, train breakdowns, poor customer service and – worst of all – for serving three-week old sandwiches. Today this is a bit unfair, as even its harshest critics would admit that the industry has managed to hugely improve its performance on all these fronts.
So much so that even I was impressed by an animated on-screen platform display while waiting for a Southern Rail train to my office in London. Instead of the usual promotional stuff, this explained how the company’s engineers were using lasers and other sensor technology to monitor the condition of the railway tracks.
It struck me that if this once backward industry is now communicating its engineering capabilities to the public, then why not the tire sector?
The glossy magazine ads, slick TV commercials and brand positioning at major sports events are all dedicated to raising the allure of the various tire brands. But surely the industry is missing a trick by not also highlighting what’s really on offer – a highly advanced piece of product design, materials development and production engineering.
Please email your views on this topic to ERJ editor: Patrick Raleigh
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Last March 27 was the 150th anniversary of the very first long-distance “phone” conversation.. (Bell, 1847-1922).
Around the same time the very first ‘tire’ was introduced (Dunlop 1840-1921). Even at that time, you wouldn’t compare the workplace and the processes - Nice and neat versus chaotic and stinky!
Now, 150 years later, the ‘phone’ concept has been revolutionized and IT has become an integral part of the system.
So, not only the conversation but a whole lot more is being communicated and exchanged. The industry is still innovating at the speed, selling few grams of plastic/glass etc at $1000+ a kilo…
But how about the “tire”..? Still “rubber”, “reinforced and vulcanized” and “pneumatic” to “hold air”… for a few bucks a kilo…
Except for “tubeless” and “radial”, where there may be the flare of few new materials, nothing has changed in the basics …
I can go on with comparisons upon my 40+ years of dedication (education, engineering, technical, business and management) but my belief is that the tire sector is now far from attracting new talents – as seen by the fact that I am still consulting ...
The good thing is that there is still no “substitute” in foreseeable future, to ‘obsolete’ the tire. So, we will all continue to enjoy our professions.
Not encouraging.. sorry..
Cem Ergün, AREND Industrial Consultancy, Istanbul, Turkey (contact details supplied)