The IAA Commercial Vehicles Show got underway in Hanover today (September 20th 2012), with Goodyear dropping one of the first big announcements by debuting its self-inflating commercial tyre technology.
According to the rubber manufacturer, researchers have been working for the past year to develop a new Air Maintenance Technology (AMT) application for fleets.
Tyres are identified by Goodyear as the single largest maintenance item for operators, with more than half of all truck and trailer breakdowns involving a failure in some capacity.
However, with its new technology compounds can maintain constant, optimum pressure without introducing external pumps, electronics and driver intervention.
"We believe the Air Maintenance Technology application for commercial vehicle tires will not only enhance the performance of the tyre, but will also provide cost savings to fleet owners and operators through the extension of tyre tread life and increased fuel economy," said Goodyear's chief technical officer Jean-Claude Kihn.
"The progress we continue to make with this technology is very encouraging," he added.
Tyres under-inflated by just ten per cent can suffer a decrease of nine – 16 per cent in tread life, while it is estimated that every 10 psi lost in tyre inflation results in a one per cent loss in miles per gallon. Such reductions add up – according to Goodyear a vehicle with a fuel consumption of 6.6 miles per gallon running 100,000 miles a year on diesel would cost a truck owner around $627 (£387) a year in fuel.
Self-inflating rubber will therefore save fleets significant amounts of money and help them to realise their full mileage and performance potential.
Commercial vehicles obviously have larger tyres, making them a different challenge for the company's AMT mechanism. The rubber has a higher inflation pressure, and usually has to withstand long-distance driving and support a heavy load. As the life of a commercial truck tyre is often extended by retreading, the commercial AMT is designed to perform after just such a procedure.
However, Goodyear wasn't the only manufacturer hogging the commercial truck tyre spotlight at the IAA show – more news came from Continental, which announced it would be opening a cutting edge retreading plant at its Hanover headquarters.
Claimed to be the first of its kind worldwide, the plant will join up retreading with rubber recycling production.
"In the face of limited raw materials, we see it as our obligation to come up with sustainable solutions in tyre production and retreading," said Dr. Andreas Esser, head of Continental’s Commercial Vehicle Tires business unit.
"We are now able to process used tread buffings and ground end-of-life tyres in such a steered and controlled way that it can be reused in the production of new and retreaded tyres,” he added.
As previously reported, 41 per cent of end-of-life tyres in the EU are used for incineration in the cement industry, while 35 per cent are downcycled and used in low-stress technical rubber goods and products.
Continental hopes the new facility and its technology will allow double the amount of recycled rubber to go into a tyre.
The new plant will start production in 2013, with an annual capacity of 180,000 retreaded tyres estimated annually.
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Posted by Danielle Barge