ERJ: Please identify one significant development in the tire industry in the last 2-3 years, and explain its importance.
EZ: Jan Grashuis [vice president – global R&D, VMI], mentioned in his interview for ERJ: VMI sees challenges for the tire industry both in the field of tire technology and plant organisation. Each step towards a half-weight tire will reduce the gauge of components, making them harder to produce, handle and built into a tire. With thinner components the impact of splices and centring of components on tire appearance and quality will increase the need for tire building machines with advanced centring- and application systems.
Equally complex is the increasing number of tire specs a tire plant has to produce, which multiplies the logistic complexity and requires more and more flexibility in equipment.
2. What do you see as main obstacles to the development of the tire manufacturing industry in the coming years?
EZ: Change is coming from all directions for the tire industry. The market is demanding new technologies for “smart tires”, but also technologies for lighter tires. On the same moment a lot of changes are unknown, but will come fast, for example what will happen when there will be new regulations on particles that are caused by tire wear. So the biggest obstacle is focus on the right development without losing the rest of the market.
3. Which technologies will play the biggest role in shaping the ‘tire factory of the future’, and why?
EZ: In this time of “smart industry” and “industry 4.0”, the most important technologies will be how to collect the right data out of the machines and connect this to optimise your production with this data. Another important item will be how to create all the flexibility within production, without loss of Overall Equipment Efficiency and increase of total cost price.
4. What major changes do you expect to see in tire manufacture and supply over the next few years?
EZ: The tire industry will demand more intelligent systems for data gathering, but also smart equipment that will help to optimise production. For VMI it will be important to supply technologies that will help a tire manufacturer on all disciplines within a factory, like tire development, maintenance, production planning and quality. All these different departments are asking other information.