Terrific tyre trends

Terrific tyre trends

The wheel has never had to be reinvented, but tyres are a totally different story. We take a look at the latest developments within this sector.

First up is Continental’s drive to step up its activities towards a circular economy. Recently, the tyre manufacturer added recovered carbon black (rCB) to its newly produced Super Elastic solid tyres at its tyre plant in Korbach, Germany, thus reducing the fossil raw materials used and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The rCB is supplied by Pyrum Innovations, one of Continental’s partner companies. Pyrum breaks down end-of-life tyres into their individual components in industrial furnaces using a special pyrolysis process. This allows valuable raw materials to be extracted and recycled.

This rCB holds great value, as industrial carbon black is an important resource used as a filler in tyre production and in the manufacture of other industrial rubber products. The targeted use of carbon black in rubber compounds increases the stability, strength, and durability of tyres.

“Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the specialty tyre segment. Our Super Elastic solid tyres combine low rolling resistance, long service life, and a comparatively high proportion of sustainable materials,” says Matthias-Stephan Müller, product manager for material handling tyres in Continental’s Specialty Tyres business area.

A solid start

By 2050, Continental aims to use 100% sustainable materials in its tyre products, and solid tyres like Continental’s SC20+ already contain around 60% renewable and recycled materials thanks to their high natural rubber content. Solid tyres have a high load capacity and are extremely stable, puncture-proof, maintenance-free, and highly economical. They are mainly used in material handling by forklift trucks, airport vehicles, heavy transport vehicles, sideloaders, platform trucks, and other industrial vehicles. 

Most forklift trucks in intralogistics are already powered electrically. The range and charging times of the batteries employed are therefore important. Tyres with a low rolling resistance can help to keep the energy consumption of electric forklifts low and thus contribute to improved vehicle range. 

“Our customers want to make their operating processes even more environmentally friendly, resource-saving, and efficient. Forklift trucks, for example, are required to do more work in the shortest possible time. This means moving heavier loads and traveling further distances at higher speeds. This is where Continental comes in with its customised tyre solutions,” Müller explains.

Going the extra mile

Continental isn’t the only manufacturer delivering tyres that run the extra mile. Closer to home, Goodyear’s Kmax S Endurance has proven itself as a superior steer tyre. These rubber rollers were fitted onto the steer position of leading dry bulk transportation specialist All Bulk’s regional haulage fleet, and delivered some astounding numbers over 14 months of use in South Africa and other African countries.

“The Goodyear Kmax S Endurance tyres were fitted onto the steer position of our fleet of Scania R500s. These tyres have done over 240,000km and enabled us to achieve higher efficiency per kilometre and lower downtime. We are satisfied with their performance,” says Louis Slabbert, All Bulk’s transport manager.

Goodyear’s Kmax S Endurance is manufactured with a specific compound mix that uses ingredients and a molecular structure designed to minimise wear and resistance. “With key tyre technology innovations that combine chipping/chunking resistance and robustness with high mileage capability and even wear, the Kmax S Endurance is the perfect steer tyre for regional hauling applications,” explains Brandon Meyer, Goodyear South Africa’s director of commercial business. In addition to the tyres, Goodyear also upskilled the All Bulk team with fitter and driver training.

Tantalising tyre training

The South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) is also benefitting from training within the tyre sphere. As the official industry body and trade association of the local tyre manufacturers Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear, and Sumitomo, the SATMC has teamed up with the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to ramp up tyre safety education and enforcement across South Africa.

Data from the Road Traffic Management Corporation’s (RTMC’s) State of Road Safety Report for the period January to December 2021 shows that 41% of crashes occurred due to pre-crash tyre bursts, while a further 15% of crashes were caused by smooth tyres. Meanwhile, South Africa’s National Road Safety Strategy 2016-2030 notes that both burst and smooth tyres are a major issue, suggesting that “tyres not being replaced or maintained regularly enough to maintain required roadworthiness standards”. It continues: “To address this and other issues greater emphasis needs to be placed on law enforcement interventions aimed at ensuring that vehicles are roadworthy.”

The partnership between the SATMC and RAF aims to address this by upskilling traffic and road safety officers and educating commuters on various aspects of tyre safety. “Being the sole point of contact between a vehicle and the road, tyres play a crucial role in vehicle performance, handling, and safety on the roads. As the SATMC and RAF, we know that equipping law enforcement and road users with the knowledge of proper tyre safety is an essential step in our ongoing battle against road accidents in South Africa,” says Nduduzo Chala, the SATMC’s managing executive.

The RAF conducts countrywide workshops, educational programmes, and marketing campaigns to promote safe walking, driving, cycling, and passenger habits, as well as to empower the enforcement of road rules. “In this regard, we have partnered with experts in tyre usage such as the SATMC in order to continue the fight against road crash injuries and fatalities by increasing awareness and shifting the mindsets of all road users,” says RAF road safety senior manager, Siphamandla Gumbi.

The SATMC and RAF tyre safety programme will include two-day training sessions for traffic and road safety officers covering topics such as the importance of tyre safety, how to identify safe tyres (including tyre construction, markings, fitment, and tread depth standards), how to maintain tyres properly, and the dangers of illegal and unsafe second-hand tyres.

There will be a series of educational roadshows and on-road educational roadblocks in all nine South African provinces. To maximise impact, special emphasis will be placed on major transport hubs like KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape, and Gauteng. A total of 12 sessions will be conducted until March 2024.

According to the SATMC, the illicit trade of tyres into South Africa, coupled with the country’s unregulated second-hand tyre industry, is posing a serious threat to the safety of South African consumers. 

“South Africa has seen an influx of poor-quality, non-regulated tyres and dangerous second-hand tyres, contributing to road accidents and safety concerns. A study conducted by the SATMC found that 63% of second-hand tyres sold on the roadside were, in fact, illegal waste tyres,” Chala elaborates. “This partnership with the RAF aims to counter these challenges by equipping traffic officers with the necessary knowledge to identify unsafe tyres and enforce regulations effectively, while providing motorists with useful information to uphold tyre safety themselves.” 

While the wheel has never had to be reinvented, the tyre industry is clearly doing its part to evolve its products and promote sustainability, durability, and safety.

Published by

Jaco de Klerk

In his capacity as editor of SHEQ MANAGEMENT, Jaco de Klerk is regarded as one of the country’s leading journalists when it comes to the issue of sustainability. He is also assistant editor of FOCUS on Transport & Logistics.
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