With OEMs looking for better performing tyres for their equipment, tyre manufacturers are widening product range through increased R&D and product testing. P.P. Basistha takes a look.

The tyre industry is seeing a spurt in demand from the on and off highway construction equipment sectors due to a revival in infrastructure development. Besides backhoe loaders and tipper trucks, demand, interestingly, is also coming from newer equipment verticals such as skid steers, telehandlers, mobile cranes, and motor graders.

R&D & product testing capabilities

Predominantly with focus on the export markets, Balkrishna Tires is now looking to expand sales of its off-highway tires in the domestic market. “We’re upbeat of increased sales. Demand is coming from the construction and mining sectors, and the market for replacements is also picking up. The company has geared up to meet demand with timely supply, with the commissioning of its new manufacturing facility in Bhuj.”

Mr. Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director, BKT
Says Mr. Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director, BKT, “With our increased production at the Bhuj pant, we have been able to increase sales in this sector in India by 15% from 7% a few years back. We are also strengthening our distribution and dealer network, and have put in place a dedicated customer service team. We have also formed alliances with OEMs in India and abroad for co-engineering of more advanced products. We have recently become a registered vendor for Caterpillar’s mobile products. We have an alliance with many other OEM companies.

To improve its products for delivering better lifecycle costs, BKT is making improvisations in the compositions of the compounds, and re-evaluating the technical attributes of the tyres, based on their performance data and testing at the Bhuj plant.

To meet demand for more and better performing tyres, manufacturers are strengthening their R&D in raw materials and testing of the final products, and expanding their product range to cater to the diverse application areas.

Backhoe loader

Satish Sharma, President, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA), Apollo Tyres Ltd.
Says Mr. Satish Sharma, President, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA), Apollo Tyres Ltd, “Our Global R&D Centre (Asia) in Chennai and our state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, are equipped to deliver the right products for the Indian construction and mining industries, where the equipment is subjected to longer and harsher usage. We are ably meeting domestic demand and catering to several export markets with our longer running and durable off-highway tyres (OHT).”

He adds, “Our R&D centre has an engineering alliance with the construction and mining equipment OEMs to develop customized tyres at the best possible cost. Infact, our technological advancement in making tyres is being largely driven by the OEMs, prompting us to introduce new variants in the market for their newer equipment or variants.”

ATG Tyres is seeing better prospects for radial tyres in off road (OTR) tyres, and is, in preparedness, strengthening its R&D in raw materials and production techniques to enhance product performance and lifespan. As a part of Yokohama, Japan, it has access to Yokohama’s technology, and has been working on its radial tyres for the last couple of years. It will be launching 12 new tyre sizes for graders, rigid dump trucks (RDT), articulated dump trucks (ADT), industrial forklifts and wheeled loaders.

Rajendra Nagapurkar, VP - Marketing
Informs Mr. Rajendra Nagapurkar, VP - Marketing, “Globally, ATG has been a preferred partner for the OEMs, so we are leveraging the global relationships to strength our product portfolio in India. Our OTR tyres cater to three segments: earthmover, ports and material handling, industrial and construction. For wheel loaders, we offer all the popular sizes in bias such as 14.00-25, 17.5-25, 23.5-25, 26.5-25 in E-3/L-3 TRA under our globally leading design EXR-300 and 35/65-33 in L-5 TRA under our new design LHD-500. For dump trucks, we offer 12.00-24, 18.00-25, 18.00-33 and 24.00-35 in E-4/L-4 TRA. For tippers, we offer 10.00-20, 11.00-20 and 12.00-24 under our new design Rock Mine Lug+. Some of our leading designs for industrial & construction range include EXR-300, Hulk, Super Industrial Lug and Giraffe for backhoe loaders in tyre sizes 14.00-25, 16.9-28 and 12.5/80-18. Giraffe XLW sizes 13.00-24 and 14.00-24 have been very popular for telehandlers and cranes.”

Delivering longer life-cycle

With construction equipment and machines being increasingly exposed to extended usage in harsh job sites, tyre manufacturers are aggressively working on improving the toughness and lifespan of their products, with inputs by the OEMs on the desired quality of the tyres.

Galaxy Giraffe XLW 15
Says Mr. Sharma, “We have a stringent technical evaluation and quality control process at Apollo Tyres for which we have a robust indoor testing facility, and we also conduct joint field testing processes with the OEMs. This helps us validate all the necessary specifications and the desired deliverables.”

Apollo Tyres’ current range of industrial and earthmover tyres covers major off highway equipment. It includes 16-inch tyres for backhoe loaders and 57-inch tyres used in rigid dump trucks in mining jobs, besides tyres for mobile cranes, pneumatic road compactors, skid steer loaders, wheel excavators, and transit mixers. The tyres are manufactured at its two facilities in Kerala and one in Gujarat.

ATG’s two main manufacturing plants in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, and Dahej, Gujarat, cater to both domestic and international markets. Products undergo stringent quality tests that include inspection, endurance and field tests. Apart from this, all the partnering OEMs carry out product evaluation before approving the product for fitment. The company is also augmenting its production capacity at its Dahej plant, in anticipation of rising demand.

Wider Availability & Support

To render the requisite support for their specialised tyres, manufacturers are strengthening their logistics for timely availability and service of their products. Says Mr. Sharma, “Apollo Tyres is fully aligned to meet the increasing market requirement of off-highway tyres. We have nearly doubled our OHT capacity in the last few years. Alongside, we have set up a robust supply chain, and we have OHT specialists deployed across the country.”

Says Mr. Nagapurkar, “ATG is ramping up its sales, distributor and dealer network, and is exploring business opportunities in both domestic and international markets.”

The widening of product offerings by tyre manufacturers for varied application requirements is commendable initiative. However, it will be vital on the part of the manufacturers to render adequate support to the new range of solutions catering varied equipment verticals.
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