LOUISVILLE, Ky.-The increasing demands trucking fleets are placing on new tire manufacturers for better products will necessitate vast changes in the retreading industry as well, P. David Jones, Dunlop Tire Corp.'s senior vice president of technical, told attendees of the ARA World Tire Conference in Louisville, April 6. Today's trucking fleets, searching to cut costs and increase carrying capacities, are looking for new tires that are cheaper in price but provide longer tread life.
But that's not all, Mr. Jones said.
Those fleets also want new size and profile options, lower noise levels and increased retreadability, fuel efficiency and dealer serviceability.
That long list of new tire specifications is forcing manufacturers to turn to new compounds, new designs and unique manufacturing processes that will, in turn, make the retreading process more complicated and focused on precision, Mr. Jones speculated.
Many of the future's changes can be seen in today's move toward tires with lower aspect ratios and smaller diameters, Mr. Jones said. That trend will continue for some time, as fleets push to carry greater payloads.
For retreaders, the changes mean upgrading equipment and procedures to handle new profiles and tire sizes.
New tire manufacturers are also looking at new rubber compounds, which will have to be matched during the retreading process, to help lower rolling resistance and increase fuel efficiency.
Improvements in tire weight, ride comfort and noise levels will also necessitate increasing complexity in the retread shop, Mr. Jones contended.
Design changes to accommodate increased loads and pressures will force retreaders to meet closer tolerances to original equipment specifications.
``Tread radius will become more critical in the retreading process, if a tire is to achieve its full life cycle,'' Mr. Jones said. ``We design the original or `optimum' new tread radius for maximum new tire performance. . . .''
Future retread technology will have to focus on maintaining the tread-to-belt radius relationship that governs many of a tire's performance characteristics.
The need to keep pace with changes in new tires and the increasing complexity of the retreading process will necessitate closer relationships between retreaders and tire manufacturers, Mr. Jones suggested.
``Manufacturing control and precision will dictate a closer working relationship, in technology terms, between the new tire manufacturer and the retreader,'' he said.