The future will see a lot of machinery makers; some will be based in Asia; some in Europe and some in the Americas. It will become a lot more difficult to guess which offer high tech and high prices or low tech and low prices simply by looking at their country of origin, says David Shaw, CEO of Tire Industry Research, in an exclusive interview with Rubber Machinery World.
David Shaw, is a tall leader and a global expert on the international tire and rubber industry. He has studied tire manufacturing, raw materials, processes and technologies and how they vary around the world. This deep technical knowledge, built up over 25 years combined with a thorough understanding of branding, pricing and distribution channels, gives him a unique advantage to analyse regional and global strategies in car, light truck, heavy truck & specialty tires.
With exceptional knowledge, clarity, relevance and insight, David offer both overviews and detailed analyses of companies, markets, sectors, segments and regions as a strategy consultant.
I consider it a privilege to know him and present his thoughts to you in our “Know A Leader” Series. Because, it is a lengthy interview covering a wide topic on trends, growth drivers, innovation, sustainability, tire design, machinery improvements, concerns, role of China & India, etc; I reproduce below only 3 Q&A’s to give you a feel.
I invite you to read the complete interview online on our digital edition (by clicking on the image above).
Q3) One school of thought that has been endorsed by another expert is that there have been very few changes in tyre industry in the last 100 years. Your views?
David Shaw: I saw your interview with Jacob Peled. I like Jacob very much. He has been a good friend and teacher to me and has been in the business longer than I have, so I have great respect for his views.
He is right to say that there has been limited progress in the fundamental design of much equipment in the tyre and rubber industry, but I think his analysis can be expanded. We have seen huge improvements in the detailed design. Productivity, repeatability and process-flexibility have all improved tremendously in the last couple of decades, albeit in a series of incremental improvements.
The introduction of consumer labelling for tyres a few years ago in Japan, Korea and the EU led to a near-revolution in the tyre manufacturing side in which machinery makers were asked to deliver equipment that can make semi-finished components and finished tyres with tight Cpk and Cpp values.
Tyre building has changed massively – not only with the introduction of radial designs in the 1940s, but over the last couple of decades the need for more automation and faster size changes has led to a transformation in the design of TBM equipment and especially building drums.
Although mixers still use the same principles as original designs of Thomas Hancock, the power of the rotors, the heat transfer capacity and the variety of rotor designs for high shear, intensive mixing and other processes show tremendous creativity and development.
It so happens that I believe the internal mixer is close to the end of its development cycle. I think that in the near future we will see some very significant developments in mixing technology which can overcome some of the limitations of internal mixers when it comes to high-volume, highly dispersive mixing of silica in solution SBR and high molecular-weight Nd-BR compounds.
Q6) What new ideas are energizing the tyre industry globally? How much of it is related to machinery developments or improvements?
David Shaw:I have hinted above that I think the internal mixer is approaching the end of its product development cycle. Wear rates on tyres are closely linked to the uniformity of the compound on a 10nm – 100nm scale. That’s the size of agglomerations of carbon black and silica particles. More discontinuities in that size range lead to greater stress concentrations and consequently increased wear under dynamic loading as seen in hard cornering or heavy braking.
Current internal mixers are close to their limit when compounders want good dispersion on these scales, especially when mixing silica which likes to self-agglomerate.
I think we will see some very significant changes to the mixing process during 2016. If the industry adopts these new changes – and I am convinced that they will – then the design of compounds and the care of compounds will become a new field for machinery makers. I can envisage whole new classes of machinery which are less aggressive towards the compound. This in turn should lead to lower energy costs and improved product performance.
Second, the machinery suppliers have traditionally looked only at initial capital investments by tyre makers with on-going maintenance contracts where they can sell them. They have restricted themselves to the machinery.
I suspect that one or two of them will venture into the raw materials supply area. Already we have seen Mesnac investigating some material properties. Today this is largely driven by a need to better understand how these materials can be processed.
I remember a conversation with Ronil Malaney in India a few years ago. At the time he was acting as agent for machinery makers and for materials suppliers. There are strong synergies in that combination.
As machinery supplier, you get an idea of the capacity of the factory and so can predict what materials will be needed and in what volumes. As materials supplier, you can get an idea of when a factory is close to capacity and might want to think about expanding, so can time your upgrade suggestions accordingly.
Q10) What would be your advice on machinery to both equipment buyers and equipment sellers?
David Shaw: To both buyers and sellers, I’d say the future will see a lot of machinery makers; some will be based in Asia; some in Europe and some in the Americas. It will become a lot more difficult to guess which offer high tech and high prices or low tech and low prices simply by looking at their country of origin.
My advice to sellers would be to explore every way of removing cost without removing value and to develop a deep understanding of the attributes your customer thinks genuinely add value; concentrate on those aspects to exceed the expectations of your customer.
To buyers, I’d say look at the total cost of ownership, but also think about the kind of tyres you want to make and assess the performance needed for each operation within that envelope. In many cases, balancing initial cost against overall quality can bring the amortisation time down, so reducing the overall financial risk.
I look forward to hear your thoughts on David Shaw’s interview.
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