Ravenna, Ohio—Independent tire testing company Smithers Rapra has struck a deal with six US-based tire makers to help fund the expansion of its tire and wheel testing center in Ravenna. The funding also will support the installation of a specialized piece of testing equipment.
Six tire makers help fund Smithers Rapra US expansion
Smithers Rapra's deal with the tire makers — Bridgestone Americas, Continental Tire, Cooper Tire & Rubber, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Hankook Tire, Michelin North America — covers the installation at the Ravenna facility of an MTS Flat-Trac CT Plus tire test system, which provides higher wheel torque and increased longitudinal and lateral load limits over the facility's existing capabilities.
Adding this piece of equipment will allow Smithers to test most passenger car and light truck tires on the market. It also will require expanding the Ravenna laboratory by 10,000 square feet, which should be completed by July 2018.
The cost of the project and the partners' share of the cost was not disclosed. Smithers expects to generate additional revenue by leasing time to companies other than the six partnership firms.
The new tire testing system enhances the laboratory's existing capabilities by providing higher wheel torque, as well as increased longitudinal and lateral load limits, allowing for the testing of most passenger car and light truck tires on the market today, Smithers said.
"The automotive market's shift to larger vehicles has pulled through larger tire sizes with higher load requirements," said Smithers Rapra President Nat Leonard. "This partnership…will provide each partner company with additional capabilities and capacity to support their research and development activities for larger tire sizes. The partnership will also sell excess capacity on the machine to non-partners."
Tire modeling requires a variety of force and moment data points and different load requirements to provide higher fidelity models, Smithers said. As the vehicle development process continues to depend on component modeling to meet validation and timing requirements, this new system will provide flexibility through its ability to test a wider range of tire sizes.
Smithers Rapra just recently completed an upgrade to the treadwear testing capabilities at the Ravenna facility, one that encompasses new equipment and software that can run a variety of drive profiles while supporting benchmarking and development requirements.
Smithers Rapra, a member of the Smithers Group, operates laboratories in North America, Europe and China, covering a wide variety of testing and consulting services from material chemistry and product durability testing, to tire, wheel and winter testing.