Six months after the much-anticipated launch of its two-piece off-the-road tire assembly, Goodyear is monitoring closely the concept's performance in real-world conditions as the number of units in the field increases.
Tom Walker, general manager of OTR tires for the Akron-based tire maker, said Goodyear has been working since the late July launch in Salt Lake City to get the tire assembly in the market to garner real-world performance data. The two-piece tire assembly comprises a separate treadbelt and casing that are grooved to fit together, but each can be replaced without exchanging the entire assembly.
At the time, Goodyear said it considered the package a revolution for the mining industry. The two-piece assembly is designed to offer higher payload capabilities, increased productivity, cost-per-ton savings and improved traction, handling, stability and ride on haul trucks.
``The unfortunate thing is that proving the product isn't an overnight accomplishment,'' Mr. Walker told Tire Business.
Though he wouldn't give specific sales figures, he said Goodyear is on track with his goal of producing and selling 600 to 800 assemblies in the first official year of its launch. Mr. Walker expects to collect data for some six to eight months to get solid material for selling.
During this time, the main focus will be on the 45R57 size, with 51-inch and 63-inch offerings in the future.
Bob Purcell, owner of Purcell Tire & Rubber Co., said he's also getting his feet wet using the two-piece assembly. His dealership has installed the tires at two mines, and a third has agreed to test it. But he said the two-piece's future at his dealership still depends on where the project goes.
``They haven't been installed in any place long enough to be able to say it's outstanding,'' Mr. Purcell said. ``But in theory it sounds like it would work well-but sometimes things in theory don't work out.''
Goodyear has not released the price range of the two-piece, highlighting instead its sales strategy of downplaying the higher initial cost and emphasizing the later cost savings. That job should be easier with performance data in hand, said Rob Andrew, global marketing manager.
``Once it's out there and as we get the data and it proves itself, I don't think that's going to be an issue,'' he said of the cost.
Mr. Walker said customers so far are interested in the potential for increased uptime of trucks, ability of trucks to haul more over the life of the tire, improved traction, overall cost improvement and being able to use the trucks in inclement conditions.
``Consumers are thirsty for the hard proof despite the projections and various calculations we can do,'' he said. ``It is going to be the long-term durability, and they're wanting to see the...long-term hours built up on the product. So that's really where we're driving now.''
Goodyear officials in July also said they hoped the two-piece would increase the tire maker's market share in OTR tires. Mr. Andrew said other strategies and products have sparked an improvement even as the two-piece gains traction.
``We see the two-piece as only a plus to bring on additional business, especially in the mining segment of the market,'' Mr. Andrew said.