ERJ: Please identify one significant development in the tire industry in the last 2-3 years, and explain its importance.
KV: Actually, development of tire s depends on several major factors – requirement of car industry, tire technology own research base, strict EU technical requirements (117.2) and Industry 4.0 age.
If we see car industry requirement, number of tire sizes and models has increased rapidly last years, particularly with SUVs and electric cars gaining increased popularity.
At the same time, tire producers develop more and more complicated tire construction such as treads consisting of seven compounds and using compounds such as silica, liquid mixing, etc.
And beside the two mentioned factors, tire producers have to modify production principles based on Industry 4.0 trends.
If we consider all the mentioned factors, we see, that tire producers have never been faced with such requirements and tasks during the entire history of the industry. This has happened just during last 2 – 4 years.
The most important thing is, that tire producers are still able to fulfil all the mentioned requirements and the industry is not a weak player as part of a whole picture of the automotive industry.
ERJ: What do you see as main obstacles to the development of the tire manufacturing industry in the coming years?
KV: All factors, which I mentioned in first answer, will be developed during next years for sure.
The question is, if we are able to fulfil all requirements in the future then where is the border of actual tire industry technology?
Because tire technology is based on the same principles of more than 100 years, i.e. rubber and curing.
I personally do not expect, that tire industry principles to change during coming years. Maybe later.
Yes, we will develop new compounds, through chemical processes or add new sizes and new constructions. But the tire will still be black and rubber smelling during coming years for sure.
ERJ: Which technologies will play the biggest role in shaping the ‘tire factory of the future’, and why?
KV: My previous answers were very general.
Now, I will speak about particular part of tire industry, which is core business of Mesnac European Centre, i.e. tire-building machines.
Tire-building machine of future – comparing actual TBM construction – will “see” its building process and will be able to self-adjust its parameters according to results of self-inspection.
This is not science fiction, this is near future, which we are developing in MERTC.
Today, we are able to measure, through hundreds measuring points, run-out of tooling before building, centring of components on drums and quality of all components splicing.
When green tire is finished, we are able to measure its run-out and we can compare it with final uniformity test. We can do it today.
Tomorrow – perhaps by the end of the year – our TBM will react to measuring results by self-adjustment without operator presence.
How happy will tire producers be, if our new, full automatic TBM P-PRO2 self-control test of green tire run-out matches 98% of final cured tire uniformity test?
This is TBM technology of “tire factory of the future”.
ERJ: What major changes do you expect to see in tire manufacture and supply over the next few years?
KV: Automatic processes, fully under control of intelligent inspection systems, will likely be able to make self-adjustment according to inspection result.
There will also be the possibility of machines changing parameters very quickly in order to produce many different tire sizes/types during one day or one shift.
Also, new compounds based on new mixing principles (not mechanical mixing, but chemical mixing) will offer higher tire millage and better tire features, such as adhesion, at the same time.
RFID chips will also be standard for each tire.
And more …