The theme of the recent American Retreaders' Association World Tire Conference & Exhibition was ``Challenges, changes and opportunities in the world of tires.'' But in his keynote address, Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Sales Co. President John Lampe put a spin on that theme that seemed to capture the spirit of the event: Changes in technology present both challenges and opportunities to retreaders; only by adapting to such changes can retreaders take advantage of the opportunities they present.
It's a message to which all retreaders should pay particular attention.
Speaking about BFS' new active computer chip, which can monitor and transmit a tire's temperature and pressure and provide a wealth of other information, Mr. Lampe said: ``If your company is one of the first to successfully adapt this technology, you will be way ahead of the game. If your competitors beat you to the punch, you may lose out on some significant business opportunities.''
Earlier, in a presentation rife with implications for North American retreaders, Paolo Borgianni, export manager for Italian equipment maker CIMA Impianti S.p.A., told how cheap new tires imported from eastern Europe and the Far East have created very tough competition for most European passenger tire retreaders.
British retreaders, such as Colway Tyres Ltd. and Technics Group P.L.C., have responded with highly automated, technically sophisticated equipment to produce bead-to-bead retreads with increased productivity and quality while remaining very cost-competitive.
Most British retreaders, meanwhile, have become very export-oriented. In fact, Mr. Borgianni said, imports from the United Kingdom have virtually supplanted domestically produced passenger retreads in Germany, where retreaders were slow to invest in new technology and were saddled with high labor costs.
This message was reinforced on the trade show floor, where numerous exhibitors displayed highly automated, computerized, state-of-the-art retreading equipment: Retreaders must stay abreast of technological developments-or risk being overtaken by those who do.