Rubber Machinery selection is an art by itself and should be done by people who have visions, both technical and commercial, says Jacob Peled, Executive Chairman of Pelmar Engineering Ltd, Isreal in an exclusive interview with Rubber Machinery World.
(Starting this month, I bring to you a new series comprising of interviews with rubber leaders – aptly titled “Know A Rubber Leader in 10 Questions”. I hope you find the wisdom, experience and vision shared here inspirational and energizing.)
Here is Jacob’s full interview reproduced for you.
- Hello Jacob. First of all thank you for accepting an interview with Rubber Machinery World and sharing your thoughts. After a degree in Polymer Science and an MBA from Tel-Aviv University, you started Pelmar in 1966 and grew the brand to a revered name in reconditioned and pre-owned machinery, and tooling for the tire industry. Your growth history is fascinating and I have always found you very inspirational in our conversations. So, let me start with a personal question – Was your entry into Tire Industry planned or it just happened? Is there a story that could inspire and motivate the next generation of rubber leaders?
Thank you for your kind words. My entry to the Tire Industry happened as a combination of coincidence and probably hidden motivations. During my studies I worked as a compounder at Samson Tire and Rubber Co., which was a licensor of General Tires at the time. This has given me the first taste of rubber combined of course with a lot of dust, noise and dirt. Later on the same company has commissioned me to carry out a market survey for them, which showed me other sides of this fascinating industry. I have never left since – 49 years now.
- In our last communication, you cited that there have been very few changes in tire industry in the last 100 years. To a buyer, this is a surprise because their general perception is that tire technology is revolutionizing fast and leading tire producers compete on technology to garner market share. Could you elaborate on your view for our readers?
Indeed the changes in tire construction and production have not been significant, with the exception perhaps of the invention of radial tires by Michelin and tubeless tires by Continental. Compounds have also developed to achieve better physical and chemical properties, but with relatively few significant improvements.
- How much of this stagnation or lack of change do you attribute to the machinery being used for tire manufacturing?
Tire rubber machinery have attributed to the slow development mainly because the function of machinery developed in the middle of the last century was satisfactory to the tire companies. The high prices of tires, combined with relatively low life expectancy, have caused the stagnation. Significant changes in automation of tire building only started approx. 15 years ago.
- At Tire Technology Expo 2014, you pointed out that tire production using the pre-cure method lends itself well to the manufacture of new tyres? Isn’t this unconventional? What changes in machinery would this demand on the shop floor for a tire manufacturer?
My concept at TTE2014 presentation indeed mentioned this as an option. Pre-cured tread achieved better results than virgin tread. This is true in many cases also in hot retreading, particularly on aircraft tires. This leads to the possibility of casings will be manufactured slick and the tread applied later, as per the market requirements. It enables keeping smaller stocks and fast response to customer wishes. While this idea could be used on all tire sizes, I know that this has already started, but mainly on industrial tire production. The changes on the shop floor would not only be a result of using PCT. We shall see the gradual disappearance of duplex and triplex extrusion lines, as well as large calender lines, which will be replaced by strip-winders and roller-dies respectively.
- I observe that environment conservation has always been a subject close to your heart. However, rubber processing has always been and continues to be an energy intensive process with significant wastage. Is it possible to strike a balance? Are the rubber machinery manufacturers doing enough on this subject?
You are quite right. Environmental conservation and recycling have always been close to my heart. In fact, for many years and still true, retreading is the No. 1 recycling method in the tire industry. It is the most effective and economical. True enough, it is not a final solution, but it is the most significant preventer for more scrap tires in the landfills. Tire and rubber machinery and the process in general have traditionally been accompanied by significant wastage. This is changing very quickly in the last 10 years. The rubber machinery producers are paying a lot of attention and results are already there.
- What would future tire plants look like?
Tire plants will become smaller and more specialized in certain types and sizes of tires. Part of my answer is in Point 4. I also believe that future tire plants will have no compounding facilities of their own, as mixing would be done by outside custom compounders specialized in these products (similar in a way to what happened to fabric production and dipping).
- Which machinery or manufacturing technology, do you foresee, has the potential to disrupt the rubber and tire industry in the next 15 years?
Disrupt is probably not the right term to use. I suppose you mean what machinery will change significantly or disappear? As mentioned above, calender lines and extrusion lines will disappear. This is particularly true for innerliner calenders since innerliner will be replaced by a film, which is already being used by some tire companies. Passenger tire building machines have already changed and their capacity increased to 35 seconds per tire and they will reach 10 or 15 seconds. This will require a change in curing presses, and particularly shortening curing time. Curing bladders will either disappear or be made to endure thousands of curing cycles.
- What do you envision for Pelmar in the next 10 years?
Pelmar will hopefully continue to expand its services to more parts of the world. It will deal more intensively with new machinery made to its design, which is already being done now. It will also be involved more extensively in equipment refurbishment and upgrading.
- What level of support can a customer, who desires to set up a green-field project, expect from Pelmar?
The support that a green-field customer can expect from Pelmar is A through Z services starting with engineering, technology transfer, complete plant design or alternatively a line. These will also include assistance in R&D, quality control, testing of end product and a future forecasting and continued assistance. The exception is any commercial activity related to tires, which we refrain from completely as an iron clad principle.
- Great! And one last question. What advice on “machinery selection” would you give to buyers in rubber and tire industry?
Machinery selection is an art by itself and should be done by people who have visions, both technical and commercial. Our advice is always to check references, compare technical capabilities and prices.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this interview.
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