Smithers expands test capabilities
AKRON-Smithers Scientific Services Inc. said it boosted its Akron laboratories' material testing capabilities by 30 percent, largely by adding the Noveon Inc.'s rubber testing business it bought last year.
The company said it acquired new testing equipment to support its mixing, curing and testing department, and has integrated all the test equipment and capabilities it obtained from the Noveon business.
``We now have the most extensive rubber compounding and mixing capabilities of any independent laboratory in the world,'' said David L. Schwarz, vice president of Smither's component and materials testing division.
Smithers renovated about 4,000 square feet of space in the lower level of its Akron location to accommodate the heavy testing equipment it acquired.
Robbins expands product lines
MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala.-Robbins L.L.C. is expanding capacity for its curing tube and envelope product lines with the addition of new mixing and testing lines.
The company, which earlier this year acquired envelope maker Presti Rubber Products Inc., will build a 60,000-sq.-ft. addition to its Muscle Shoals seven-building complex. It also will add a new rubber mixing line and an 1,800-sq.-ft. testing and quality control laboratory. The cost of the expansion, due to be completed by February, was not disclosed.
The addition will increase the size of the Muscle Shoals plant 31.5 percent, to 250,000 square feet, and create up to 50 new jobs, according to Robbins President H.D. McCuistion.
The company will have three mixing lines. That and the addition of a new cold-feed extruder line will create more flexibility for the firm. ``We need them to satisfy our customers' requirements and to handle the growth we've had in the business,'' Mr. McCuistion said.
The complex of buildings, along with Robbins-Presti's plant, house Robbins' three main product groups: specialized commercial flooring, made from scrap truck tires; rubber custom mixing; and envelope and curing tubes for the retreading industry.
Presti-which is being renamed Robbins-Presti-will operate as a manufacturing unit of Robbins L.L.C. The company also has leased a distribution center near New Britain, Pa., to handle Robbins-Presti's products.
Potenza gets OE fitment on Subaru
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-The Bridgestone Potenza RE92 has been named the original equipment tire for the 2003 Subaru Baja.
Bridgestone/Firestone is supplying the H speed-rated tire in size P225/60R16.
The all-wheel drive Baja is Subaru's newest crossover vehicle and is based on the Legacy/Outback platform. It arrived in U.S. showrooms in September.
The all-season Potenza RE92 has been available for some time, but this new application is the only one to feature raised white letters on the sidewall, a feature BFS said was designed specifically for Subaru.
``This tire represents 24 months of joint development and engineering work between Bridgestone/Firestone and Subaru,'' said Michael Martini, vice president, BFS North American consumer original equipment sales. BFS and Subaru ``have worked together on original equipment tire fitments for the past 10 years.''
Audi makes PAX option on A8
PARIS-Germany's Audi A.G. is making Group Michelin's PAX run-flat tire/wheel system an option on the latest version of its top-of-the-line A8, which was scheduled to be launched in Europe in October/November, Michelin said at the Paris Auto Salon.
The car maker is the second customer for PAX, launched by the French tire group in 1998. Renault has been selling its five-door Scenic minivan with the PAX tire/wheel combo since 2001. Initially supplied as an option on the Scenic, PAX was made standard equipment on the Fairway and Sportway luxury versions of the Scenic.
The A8 is a four-door, V8-powered luxury sedan. The redesigned version launched at the Paris Auto Salon is the second generation of the model, first brought to market in 1993. The A8 features four-wheel-drive and an air-spring suspension system.
Michelin, Bosch in suspension pact
PARIS-Group Michelin is setting up a joint venture with Robert Bosch GmbH to develop vehicle dynamics and stability assistance systems, the companies announced at the Paris Auto Salon.
The venture, called ISS Integrated Safety Systems, is part of a year-old development partnership between the firms. This was formed to combine the respective tire and electronic expertise of Michelin and Bosch toward improving vehicle safety and handling.
Among the stated targets for the partnership is to develop improved braking systems and to increase the mobility of Michelin's PAX run-flat tire/wheel system by 2004.
Tech firm, brake maker partner
HOUSTON-Custom Technology Solutions (CTS) and Universal Brake Parts (UBP) have formed a partnership that will provide the brake parts maker with a data warehouse application designed to manage inventory control isues.
CTS's ``Datacast'' is an Oracle-based decision support system for manufacturers, warehouse distributors and service dealer groups. The Texas-based firm said the program helps integrate the entire automotive supply chain in one system. Datacast ``will enable UBP to have more accurate and timelier views of its parts in the supply chain,'' CTS said.
The partnership between CTS and UBP-part of Universal Automotive Industries Inc. in Alsip, Ill.-will include a complete inventory management system ``for optimizing service levels and investment returns,'' CTS said, ``by identifying performance abnormalities and adjusting inventory needs and capabilities.''
BFS farm promo supports famers
DES MOINES, Iowa-With the support of its certified tire dealers, Bridgestone/Firestone's Agricultural Tire Division recently sponsored an ``early bird'' promotion to help farmers prepare for the planting season while at the same time promoting its agricultural and ATV tires.
The promotion, on the theme, ``Get your kicks from a mule,'' awarded eight Kawasaki Mule utility vehicles-each worth $9,050-to farmers throughout the country. Farmers' contest entries were taken from February through May. Winners were recently selected from more than 200,000 entries in a random drawing.
Ralph Burchfield, president of the Des Moines-based BFS unit, said the company wanted to give away prizes ``that were both enjoyable and useful to our customers. The Kawaski Mule giveaway proved to be a contest farmers could really get excited about.''
The firm said its dealers used the promotion as an opportunity to show customers that their business is valued.
GM calls brake tool `essential'
RICHMOND. Va.-General Motors Corp. has elevated Brake Align Runout Correction Plates to an ``essential tool'' for its dealers, according to Brake Align L.L.C., maker of the products that are used to eliminate brake pedal pulsation and related problems such as variations in brake rotor thickness.
The product has been on the market for more than two years and first received GM's approval in February of 2001. Since then, product acceptance by GM dealers has been ``extremely strong,'' particularly at the technician level, the firm said.
With at least 18 months of data to support its decision, GM has granted the product ``essential tool'' status, meaning its use is mandatory for all GM dealerships attempting to remedy such problems. Brake Align said use of its product is the only warranty-approved method for correcting brake pulsations on GM's ``N'' platform cars, such as the 1997-2002 Chevrolet Malibu; 1997-'99 Olds Cutlass; and 1999-'02 Olds Alero and Pontiac Grand Am.
Brake Align also is in use at Midas, Meineke, Firestone and Goodyear service locations, the firm said.
A GM service bulletin accompanying Brake Align's release said motorists may experience brake pedal or steering wheel pulsation during brake application. In some cases, such pulsation has recurred within 3,000 to 7,000 miles of having had the vehicle's brakes serviced, tires rotated or any other type of service that requires wheel removal, GM said.
``Pulsation is the result of brake rotor thickness variation, causing the brake caliper piston to move in and out of the brake caliper housing,'' the GM bulletin said. ``...The major contributor to rotor thickness variation is excessive lateral runout of the rotor, causing the brake pads to wear the rotor over time.''