LAS VEGAS—Michelin North America Inc. has agreed to purchase exclusively from Hennessy Industries Inc. a Coats tire mounting machine designed to handle its PAX run-flat tire/wheel system, laying the foundation for a nationwide service network for the PAX.
Hennessy will handle initial training of Michelin personnel and warranty servicing of the equipment.
"Our relationship with Michelin gives it a level of credibility that this piece of equipment meets the specifications for their criteria," said Hennessy President Vince Piacenti.
"There are other tire changers for run-flats, but if you put a PAX tire on a standard run-flat tire changer, you will not correctly change that tire," he said.
Hennessy announced the purchase agreement Nov. 1 during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week 2000, with Michelin officials on hand.
Hennessy and Michelin have worked closely since last fall on the new changer, which also can be used to mount other high-performance and conventional tires, including zero-pressure and sport-utility vehicle models.
Unlike traditional tire changers which position a tire horizontally, Hennessy's Coats HP8020 PAX System Changer aligns the tire vertically to ease mounting and dismounting of the beads from the outside rim and allow full visibility of the operation. The 6-foot-by-5-foot-8-inch machine weighs 740 pounds and is equipped with a pneumatic power lift for positioning of the tire.
"The (vertical) one you've designed is not going to sit there and gather dust," said Don Baldwin, Michelin manager of new business development. "It's going to be used."
Tom Bussard, national accounts manager at Hennessy, said "the Coats HP8020 was developed specifically with the PAX System in mind. But it's also a great system for handling all types of wheel assemblies because of the trim protection and productivity it can provide."
"Equipment purchases that used to handle everything may now only be valid for the next five years; that's why we're here today," Mr. Piacenti said.
A main issue facing servicers in the tire industry is that tires are getting heavier. Twenty-two-inch tire and wheel assemblies are approaching a weight of 80 pounds, compared with 40 to 50 pounds in the past, the firm said.
"The vertical vs. horizontal is going to solve all kinds of ergonomic issues," he said. "It will help with workplace safety and back strain."
Hennessy also introduced a kit to upgrade tire changers already in the marketplace. The kit includes a pneumatic robotic power assist arm to help service stiff sidewall tires. "It's like having two people do the job instead of just one," a Hennessy spokesman said.
Hennessy also is investigating additional technologies to make existing tire changers PAX capable, he added. But workplace ergonomics "will still be an issue for those companies which choose to upgrade with evolving solutions rather than buying a new piece, especially with the vertical vs. horizontal system."