Ravenna, Ohio — Independent, third-party laboratory Smithers Rapra broke ground recently on a new expansion at the Smithers Tire and Wheel Test Center in Ravenna. Six of the top global tire manufacturers, including Bridgestone Americas, Continental Tire, Cooper Tire & Rubber, Goodyear, Hankook Tire and Michelin, partnered with Smithers to introduce a new MTS Flat-Trac CT Plus Tire Test System.
The new system requires a 10,000-sq.-ft. building expansion at the Ravenna laboratory, as well as addition of several technical roles to support the partnership. The partnership helps fund the expansion, and supports the installation of the MTS Flat-Trac system. Expansion at the Ravenna laboratory is expected to 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 provides higher wheel torque, as well as increased longitudinal and lateral load limits, allowing for the testing of most passenger car and light truck tires currently on the market.
"The original Force and Moment partnership, created by Smithers and tire manufacturers, was established 30 years ago," Mike Hochschwender, president and CEO of Smithers Group, said in a statement.
"We're building on that cooperation between Smithers and tire manufacturers with this new testing partnership to introduce a new MTS Flat-Trac CT Plus Tire Test System at the Smithers Tire and Wheel Test Center in Ravenna, Ohio. Sharing costs and access to the new machine allows all partners to benefit both technologically as well as economically."
Smithers Rapra, one of six Smithers Group units, 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.