By Sharad Matade
Held under the shadow of the Coronavirus pandemic, Tire Technology Expo 2020 lived up to its reputation of being the biggest tyre industry event in Europe. The 20th edition of the show hosted innovative products and the conference covered a wide range of future-defining topics for the global tyre industry.
Held between February 25 and 27, 2020, at the Deutsche Messe, Hannover, the Tire Technology Expo hosted over 300 exhibitors from across the world, barring many traditional Chinese exhibitors due to the pandemic scenario. Industry giants such as HF, VMI, Siemens, Cimcorp, Michelin, Zeppelin Systems, Rockwell Automation, Mesnac, Bosch Rexoth, Troester, Emerson, Beckoff Automation, Millken Textiles, Sibur, JSR Elastomer Europe, Trinseo and others engaged visitors with their technologies that meet the new challenges and demands of the current and future mobility.
Growing emphasise on automation & industry 4.0, traceability, sustainability, and new materials reflected on the products displayed at the expo.
In its efforts to build tyres with the highest quality and safety standards, HF Tire Tech introduced HF Q Guard that brings precision in splice measuring and complete tracking of tyre data during the tyre production process. HF Q Guard sensor technology measures splices in real-time with an accuracy lower than half of a millimetre.
‘’With this innovation, HF is anticipating market demand for: the highest quality demands; safety, and the reduction of accidents caused by defective tyres; material and cost saving in the production process; traceability in the production process and beyond; big data – the digital twin of each tire delivers all information needed; and less downtime due to quick reactions and adjustments in the production process,’’ said the company.
Uzer Makina launched its cross-placed floating-column hydraulic press for TBR tyres at the show. This brand-new curing press is much lighter and more compact than the existing frame type. At the same time, it has all the advantages of the internationally patented floating column technology, including automatic mould height adjustment, a locking mechanism that cannot jam, and low cycle time. Uzer Makina also announced that a new, 59’ size of floating-column-type hydraulic press for SUV tyre will become available in 2020.
Michelin showcased its tyres embedded with RFID tags. According to the French tyre maker, RFID tags help to optimised logistics, better stock management, correct assembly (tyre/rim) and ensuring the right tyre is fitted to the right car, through to better claim management and better lifecycle management, RFID underpins a number of improvements.
Siemens showcased a broad-based digital enterprise portfolio for the whole value chain, especially for tyre manufacturers and machine builders. The company’s digital twin of the tyre, the production machines and plants and its totally integrated automation portfolio link the digital and real-world of tyre production.
Rockwell Automation demonstrated the FactoryTalk InnovationSuite powered by PTC, as well as its curing press experience using augmented reality.
Emerson presented its portfolio of automation technologies that help reduce energy and costs through better diagnostics, sensing and monitoring. The company showcased automation technology from its ASCO, AVENTICS, ROSEMOUNT and BRANSON portfolios, as well as new PACSystems edge devices from its machine automation solutions business.
Mesnac has upgraded its passenger tyre building machine for sizes between 13’ and 24’. Its MERTC P-PRO2, depending on the version customers select, can support fully automated tyre production and has more control over the production process than before with improved data collection, smart maintenance. ‘’The MERTC PRO-VIS, visual inspection system, ensures the uniformity of building drums and that tyre components are placed correctly, as well as monitoring tyre component width, tyre component splicing, bead position and green tire uniformity,’’ said the company.
Trinseo demonstrated how its proprietary functionalisation platform is enabling the tyre value chain to produce higher performing, more sustainable tyre. Trinseo said that its functionalised SSBRs are making a significant contribution to the production of more energy-efficient tyres, which enable the reduction of CO2 vehicle emissions in their use phase. ‘’This makes them an ideal solution to current megatrends and legislation affecting the global tyre industry, satisfying demand for synthetic rubber solutions that are as high performing as they are sustainable,’’ said Trinseo.
JSR Elastomer highlighted its hydrogenated SSBR that, the company claims, increases the durability by 150%.
Kuraray presented a range of new liquid rubber grades, with a special focus on its bio-based Liquid Farnesene Rubber (L-FR), offering co-cross-linking, improved grip and greater sustainability.
Kordsa and Continental together showcased jointly developed new eco-friendly adhesion system innovative Cokoon dip technology. Cokoon enables the bonding activation of textile reinforcing materials with rubber compounds without the use of resorcinol and formaldehyde in the textile dip.
Schill & Seilacher “Struktol” highlighted its new reactive polymeric plasticisers called Struktol HT 815 and 820. These products have been developed as replacements for castor oil, which is widely used in the vast majority of tire curing bladders.
The Struktol plasticisers exhibit low volatility; furthermore, migration of plasticiser from the bladder during extended service is reduced to a minimum. This means the rubber doesn’t become stiff through extended use, thus significantly improving resistance to flex cracking.
The latest inkjet and laser marking systems for tyres were on display at REA JET’s booth. The company will be presenting its new generation of large-character inkjet printing systems. The REA JET DOD 2.0 uses the latest production processes and new materials for less wear.
Fineline showed how its RFID tags help to track tyres – OTR tyres in particular – throughout the production process. With effective use of RFID encoded 1D or 2D barcode bead labels, one can track individual tyres not only through the production process, but also for warehouse logistics and inventory management, on storage racks, and eventually to a specific OE vehicle in use.
SinoARP had its new fourth-generation GENIV hydraulic curing press, suitable for a 45-52in size range. The GENIV press, which was launched late last year, distinguishes itself with a very small footprint and a short dry-cycle time. It uses SinoARP’s ingenious hydraulic mould locking system principle, which has proved itself in the company’s other press designs, as verified by the world’s major tyre manufacturers.
The Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence were divided into the seven categories. The winners were selected by a panel of international journalists and industry experts.
VMI won the Tire Manufacturing Innovation of the Year Award for its pioneering Synchro Crown Drum, a special drum for building light truck tyres on the VMI MAXX tyre building machine. The award was received by Harm Voortman, President and CEO of VMI Group. Harm Voortman said, “We are honoured to receive this important award. In 2009, VMI launched the MAXX tyre building machine, a revolution in tyre building. The MAXX not only changed the concept of tyre building, with its hands-off, eyes-off principle, it also introduced the platform approach. With this platform approach, VMI introduced a manufacturing system which can be continuously improved and updated, so that it remains at best practice level throughout its lifespan by means of upgrades, extension or retrofits. Now, with the addition of the Synchro Crown drum, customers can build all types of tyres on one platform, delivering a high return and maximised profitability to our customers”.
Michelin bagged Tire Manufacturer of the Year Award for the second consecutive year - a first for this award, for its airless mobility solution for passenger vehicles, Uptis. Eliminating any risk of punctures, Uptis offers considerable advantages which will make it possible to offer greater peace of mind to motorists during their car journeys.
Eastman was awarded the Tire Industry Supplier of the Year Award 2020. The Environmental Achievement of the Year award grows in significance every year as the industry looks to become greener and more sustainable. 2020’s winner was RubberJet Valley, commended for its environmentally friendly High-Pressure Water Jet Technology.
Andrew Tinker was felicitated with the Lifetime Achievement Award. ‘’Andrew’s illustrious career spans over forty years, during which time he authored over eighty technical papers, co-edited a book and was the co-inventor on four patents for commercial products,’’ said the organiser.
Dr Tinker has become a renowned expert in the study and development of rubber blends and thermoplastic elastomers based on natural rubber, and, although he retired as Director of Research of TARRC in 2009, he remains on a number of influential committees associated with the rubber industry.
The Young Scientist Award for 2020 went to Alex O’Neil a Jaguar Land Rover Research Engineer from the University of Surrey. Alex was commended for his research into the measurement of friction to predict tire behaviour on different road surfaces.
The Tire Technology Expo Conference featured over 170 presentations across 12 streams from experts at organisations from Bridgestone, Continental, ExxonMobil, Hankook, Jaguar Land Rover, Lamborghini, Michelin, and Yokohoma, to name a few.
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