ST. LOUIS—Community Tire Retreading is beefing up its OTR tire retreading capabilities, adding the world's largest shearography inspection unit and a curing press capable of handling tires up to 51 inches in rim diameter.
Having shearography inspection will enable Community Tire to help its customers reduce their scrappage and along with that, costs, vice president Mike Berra Jr. said. Being able to see inside OTR tires before buffing them down for retreading should allow the company to sort casings more efficiently, alerting customers to casings that wouldn't be retreadable but could be put back in service to run out their original tread life.
Shearography is a non-destructive testing method that uses pressure generated in a vacuum chamber to induce deformations inside a tire. These can be detected by a holographic camera, letting the operator know where potential problems are and whether they warrant repair.
Having this capability should help set Community Tire apart from its competitors, Mr. Berra said. The dealership hopes to reduce costs in its factory by reducing or eliminating wasted labor and to save costs for customers by reducing the number of tires that are buffed down and inspected before being rejected for retreading.
The shearography machine, built in Germany by Steinbichler Optotechnik GmbH, is owned by Central Marketing Inc. (CMI) of Colonial Heights, Va., which represents Steinbichler in North America and is overseeing installation and calibration of the machine at Community Tire's plant in suburban St. Louis. CMI will retain ownership while Community Tire gains experience with it and builds a database of OTR tire anomalies, according to CMI President Edd Burleson.
This machine differs from others Steinbichler has built up to now, Mr. Berra said, because the diagnostic heads move around the stationary tire, instead of the tire rotating inside the chamber. This design change was necessary, he said, because the mass of a rotating OTR tire creates vibrations strong enough to disrupt a shearography scan.
Community Tire hopes to have it running commerically by May or early June, Mr. Berra said.
Initially it appears the cycle time to scan an OTR tire will be close to 10 minutes, he said, but the goal is to get it down to five to seven minutes with more experience.
Community Tire's other big investment of late is a Cima Impianti S.p.A. RP11 press for curing the larger-sized tires. The company installed the press last fall and is using it primarily for retreading 49-inch tires, demand for which is up, Mr. Berra said.
Community Tire, which specializes in mold cure retreading and repairing of light and medium truck and OTR tires, claims to be the only retreader in the U.S. doing bead-to-bead retreading for OTR tires, which it markets under the Unicure name.
St. Louis-based Community Tire works with distributors in 22 states throughout the Midwest and the South.
Mr. Berra is the third generation of his family to take the reins of the company along with his brother Phil, who heads up Community Wholesale Tire, a sister company.