When I received news that Con Edison and Encore Tires Inc. were opening a light-and medium-truck tire remolding plant in New York City and touting it as the first of its kind in the U.S., I was skeptical since the now-defunct Pol-X plant in Hopelawn, N.J., achieved that honor about 10 years ago. I attended the press conference July 9 at the $1.3 million facility in Maspeth, Queens, with a sense of deja vu and a question of where Con Edison fit into the program as it seemed to be the driving force.
``Each year, approximately 4 million worn out tires are dumped in New York City, many of which litter our roads and highways and threaten our environment,'' said Robert W. Donahue, vice president of Con Edison, Queens. ``Encore's manufacturing facility will not only help our environment by recycling tires, but the project exemplifies Con Edison's commitment to creating economic development opportunities in Queens and the entire city through a wide range of business programs being developed by our Energy Services Department.''
Discarded tires have become an unwelcome part of the city's landscape because landfills no longer accept used tires. Stacked on top of one another these tires would fill the Empire State Building not once but four times.
As a responsible corporate citizen, Con Ed has made it its mis-sion to help protect the environment by reducing waste, recycling and preventing pollution.
This commitment to both the environment and economic development represents a solution to the problem of used tires littering the landscape. Because of its interest, Con Ed's development team has been active from the plant's conception to its inception.
Con Ed's real estate team arranged for the sale of a former 10,000-sq.-ft. Queen's substation to Encore and Con Ed's energy services department plotted the electrical services needed for the facility.
Con Ed's development team also made sure that Encore took advantage of all the city, state and Con Ed incentive programs it qualified for.
New York City's energy cost savings program enabled Encore to save 30 percent annually in energy bills and Con Edison's business incentive rate cut energy costs by another 25 percent. Encore also received more than $2,700 in enlightened energy rebates for new construction lighting and security lighting.
On top of all that, Con Edison has signed an agreement to become Encore's first fleet customer.
According to Encore officials, the plant will employ 20 workers initially. Within 5 years they estimate a staff of approximately 100 will help generate annual revenues in excess of $5 million and produce approximately 300,000 tires.
Encore President Joseph Conley said that more than $2 million in capital investments have been made.
``We also feel this significant economic development project will benefit the environment as well as business and governments throughout the region that rely on automobile and truck fleets,'' Mr. Conley added.
Since New York City government depends upon a large num-ber of vehicles to provide services to city residents, it is a logical client to pursue because Encore's product would help the city save money in its cash-strapped budget. However, there are several other large truck tire retreaders in the area that might have the same idea.
One problem with grand openings and press conferences is that the plant is not in operation, which hampers a complete analysis. Encore's layout and work flow seem adequate despite a floor area of 10,000 square feet, which is a problem if the firm intends to maintain its production goals.
Hercules Retreading Systems designed the shop and provided all the equipment, including a computerized Orbitread machine, sidewall veneering machine, Cedco buffer and monorail system.
Worn tires enter through an overhead door opening at one end of the building. They progress around the perimeter to the inspection area where the production process begins at the opposite end of the building. An NDT-2 inspection machine is used to examine incoming tires. Tires needing puncture repairs are serviced on an adjacent Branick spreader using Tech International materials.
Buffing is accomplished on a CISAP Tiger 125 computer- controlled buffer which produces a fine bead-to-bead texture. Surprisingly, buffing dust was deposited in a 55-gallon drum in an area next to the buffing room. This seemed to be inadequate as a 55-gallon drum can fill quite rapidly, especially when you are buffing bead-to-bead. I think a change in capacity will be necessary.
With the advanced technology built into the machine an exact match between casing contours and matrix contours is easily achieved-and an important factor when remolding bead-to-bead.
After buffing, tires are transported by overhead conveyor to a cementing booth and then built up on an Orbitread 7000 PEC machine. The tires are moved to one of the CISAP ``Cone'' molds with six segment matrices in several different types and cured bead-to-bead.
Of the five molds in this installation, two are ``cone 2'' for smaller truck tires and three are ``cone 4'' for medium-sized truck tires. The quality of the finished product is extremely high. It is almost impossible to distinguish an Encore retread from a new tire. The Italian-made CISAP equipment caters to the increasing sophistication of tire retreading.
Based on the quality of the finished tires, this shop will be an outstanding addition to the retreading industry.
To back the claim that its remolds are just as dependable as new tires, Encore said it will offer mileage warranties similar to those on competitive new tires.
The establishment of this advanced retreading shop shows what can be done when utility companies and retreaders work together for the common good. More can be done to eliminate the problems of environmental regulations, fire and building codes and energy costs if everyone works together.
I was surprised to learn of Con Edison's participation in this project and the effort it put into the establishment of this new retread plant. It seems like an excellent idea to further the cause of retreading.