ERJ: Please identify one significant development in the tire industry in the last 2-3 years and explain its importance.
BL: The most important development was the introduction of A/A rated tire and the next step will be creating a tire with better than ‘A’ performance in rolling resistance. To reach the stringent targets for CO2 emissions for internal combustion powered cars and achieve the higher range needed for electrical vehicles, it’s very important that we reduce significantly the rolling resistance.
ERJ: What do you see as main obstacles to the development of the tire manufacturing industry in the coming years?
BL: The development of A/A tires is very challenging particularly regarding the use of new materials. Another challenge is the mass production of those high efficiency tires where you need to balance a reduction in weight and material thickness without increasing production cost and waste.
ERJ: Which technologies will play the biggest role in shaping the ‘tire factory of the future’, and why?
BL: Machines that reduced reduce the variability and improve the accuracy of the tire such as our NEO T-01 process will become more widespread. Expect a trend of continuously improving equipment and higher levels of automation.
ERJ: What major changes do you expect to see in tire manufacture and supply over the next few years?
BL: We expect to see an increase in the complexity of tires. Expect an extended range of sizes, more diverse performance requirements, more Run Flat technologies together with more sealant and foam in tires. These will all impact the complexity in the supply chain as well.