Engineering & Mining Journal

JUL 2018

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62 E&MJ • JULY 2018 www.e-mj.com SUPPLIERS REPORT In early June, off-highway tire manufacturer Balkrishna Indus- tries Ltd. (BKT) celebrated 10 years of its EARTHMAX tire line- up in Heraklion, Crete, Greece. At the event, BKT announced its objective to achieve a 10% market share in the all-steel radial segment of the global off-the-road (OTR) market by 2025. "It will be challenging as always and we will master it as al- ways," said Joint Managing Director Rajiv Poddar. The company currently has a 6% market share, he added. BKT first launched the EARTHMAX tire for loaders in 2018 and now has an extensive range of 25 all-steel radial OTR tires and plans to add even more, all produced at its Bhuj plant in India. Chairman and Managing Director of BKT Arvind Poddar described the start of EARTHMAX as a "milestone in BKT's history." To continue to gain a larger percentage of the OTR tire mar- ket, the company will roll out 51-inch (in.) and 57-in. tires in the near future, said Poddar. Dilip Vaidya, president and director of technology of BKT, said the 51-in. tire will be released to the market in the second quarter of 2019, with the 57-in. tire following in the second quarter of 2020. Vaidya described the advantages of latest-generation ma- chinery that was purchased for improved compounding, steel cord processing, and steel cord cutting along with a new tire building machine to complete and enhance the complex tire manufacturing process. "We have reached a stage of advanced engineering," Vaidya said. He also touched on the changes in technology and what BKT is doing to continue to move forward on a global level. BKT has entered into a joint research agreement with KULTEVAT Inc., a biotechnology company that specializes in the cultivation of TKS dandelion as a renewable and sustainable alternative to natural rubber, he added. "We will develop new compounding methods to be integrated in the tire manufacturing process, and TKS rubber will gradually replace the use of natural rubber," he said. They expect to receive samples by October, with the sup- ply of 1 metric ton of stabilized TKS rubber by October 2019, he added. Another area they are focusing on is the use of nanomate- rials or nanocomposites, which can provide enhanced perfor- mance, Vaidya said. Under this area, they have done research into graphene, which is wear and puncture resistant. In addition to new technologies, BKT has set up its own car- bon black manufacturing plant at the Bhuj plant site, which will begin production in the first quarter of 2019. "Especially, with the focus on giant tires, large quantities of carbon black and a variety of specialty formulations to satisfy specific performance criteria are required," Vaidya said. As a carbon black manufacturer, BKT will be able to produce customized carbon black of non-ASTM grades that are not avail- able on the market, he added. Kal Tire Considers Expanding Innovation Initiatives Roughly half way through a three-year partnership with a local university to cooperate on technology, innovation and engineer- ing projects, Kal Tire reported the bene fi ts thus far reaped will inspire further investment in innovation, said Peter Nilsson, in- novation manager, Kal Tire. The partnership with the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, forged in mid-2016 via a memorandum of under- standing, emerged shortly after the establishment of the com- pany's innovation center. The center was set up to take experi- ence-driven ideas generated by customers and staff and turn the best into patented concepts and marketable technologies. It has cranked out headline-grabbing inventions like the Gravity Assist System, an early prototype of which was showcased at MINExpo 2016, Ram Mounts, and the Power Cart. Such is described by Nilsson as the "low-hanging fruit" that easily exemplify the value of the center and the partnership, and the need for both to be grown and developed. "Our ulti- mate vision is to become quicker in delivering results and solu- tions for the operation," Nilsson said. "We fi rst need to prove what kind of successes we can do in order to improve safety and performance and ef fi ciency," he said. "When we can do this, it will be easier for us to justify why we should invest more in innovation, resources and maybe even different innovation center locations." Kal Tire's partnership with the university has the company sponsoring research largely carried out by students and faculty in campus labs. It also places students in work-study roles in the company's Innovation Center. At the Innovation Center, the company develops as many as fi ve concepts at a time, most of which are patented at an early stage of development. "The reason for the patents is to show the customer that we are serious with this and we can enhance the market value," Nilsson said. Many of the ideas that the Innovation Center develops arrive from team members submitting them via an online portal called BKT Celebrates 10 Years of EARTHMAX Tires Kal Tire's Gravity Assist System, right, an invention from the company's innovation center, demonstrates loosening lugs. (Photo: Kal Tire)

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