PR: Basically Ladoux was founded in 1965 as a [tire testing] track at the beginning and the office building came in the 70s. The offices were made out of concrete with many private spaces which were absolutely not adapted to project team work.
There were different services were separated, particularly for confidentiality purposes. At that time, Michelin had a very strong competitive edge over its competitors and the aim of the research centre was to develop products. Efficiency was not as big a concern as it is today….
In this new building [RDI Campus] we have no private offices. Nobody, not even myself, has a private office and everything is in an open space.
We have 84 open spaces, of 300 square metres, which house 25 people each.
So that was the reason why we decided to renovate the site as the way we work has drastically changed over the time.
ERJ: At the opening ceremony of the RDI campus, Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard referred to a “digital revolution” that this new campus would bring about. What I would like to know is how Michelin will meet the demands of its customers via this digital revolution.
PR: The digital revolution, I would say, is already a reality for Michelin.
As you probably know, we sell a lot of electronic devices with our earthmover tires and we have been doing this for a long time.
It is called MEMS (Michelin earthmover management system), which is basically an electronic device that knows what the tire is, its pressure, temperature, and is able to communicate with the operator.
Some 20% of big mining tires are equipped with electronic devices and Michelin has 50% of that market, i.e. 10% of big mining tires are equipped with MEMS-fitted Michelin tires.
Another point, which is again a reality, is RFID in heavy truck tires.
RFID is a chip which is fitted into a tire and carries the name, model and all the characteristics of the tire. We have already produced 4 million tires with RFID chips inside, and now have reached a production capacity of 1 million unit per year.
So, the digital revolution is quite a reality at Michelin.
We are obviously working furthermore in the field of digitalisation and connectivity of tires. For instance we are working more and more with OEMs, which look for information from tires as part of their connected mobility strategy.
We think such technology will become probably affordable in the future and we think we can redeploy such technology in the future.
ERJ: What about the manufacturing process and digitalisation in production?
PR: Yes, manufacturing 4.0 is also another thing that we are focusing on. We are working internally but we also have a lot of partnerships in particular with universities in France, here in Clermont-Ferrand, toward Industry 4.0.
Particularly in manufacturing we have made big progress and digitalised the manufacturing process.
ERJ: When we were talking to big car manufacturers, and vehicle designers, one of the big demands from tire-makers was tire simulation technology and they wanted tire-makers to have home-grown technology. How is the RDI campus going to address that requirement?