Non-destructive testing equipment for retreaded tires has been the most important advance retreaders have seen in recent years, according to a speaker at the Clemson Tire Conference.
But even beyond that, ``I have seen tread builders and other machinery that would have been in the realm of Buck Rogers not too many years ago, but today is considered ordinary,'' said Harvey Brodsky, managing director of the Tire Retread Information Bureau (TRIB), at the March 20-22 conference in Hilton Head.
``Just as with many other industries, retreading has become very sophisticated and even high-tech,'' Mr. Brodsky said. ``The good thing about these developments is that retreads are better than ever before.''
Although he didn't attempt an exhaustive list of non-destructive testing equipment available in the U.S., Mr. Brodsky named Bandag Inc., Hawkinson Companies, Marangoni Tread North America Inc., Michelin North America Inc. and Tekonix Enterprises Inc. among the major manufacturers of machines that have been a boon to retreaders, he said.
``Prior to this relatively recent development, the most dedicated worker in a retread plant could only use his or her eyes to spot defects, but they could not see `inside' the tread or sidewall areas. Now they can,'' he said.
``This has led to a significant decline in the number of retreads that fail because of workmanship defects,'' he added. ``Today the adjustment rate of retreads in many retread plants is equal to or lower than that of new tires.''
Also, the computerization of retread building equipment has led to a degree of accuracy unheard of a decade or two ago, he added.
``The bad thing, if it can be called bad, is that the high price of some of this new and sophisticated equipment has had a chilling effect on the marginal operators,'' he said. ``This has led and will continue to lead to a consolidation of retread plants within our industry.''
The cleanliness and modernity of most of today's retread plants are a long way from the dirty, smelly operations of yesteryear, Mr. Brodsky said in conclusion. ``This is a good thing and bodes well for an industry that too often takes undeserved lumps from the media and others who have a misguided idea of how tires are really retreaded.''