Maurice Taylor Jr., chairman and CEO of Titan International Inc., has one message for his competitors in the mining tire business: We're coming baby, we're coming.
The Quincy-based tire maker, which began commercial production of its first 57- and 63-inch steel-belted radial mining tires in 2008 at its plant in Bryan, Ohio, has expanded its OTR radial line further with the launch of 49- and 51-inch tires.
The 49-inch tire, available in size 27.00R49, officially launched two weeks ago, while the 51-inch tire, available in size 33.00R51, will be shipped by the end of February, Mr. Taylor told Tire Business. He said that the company likely will be adding more sizes in the coming year.
We're trying to figure out which (sizes) to do that lend themselves best for our manufacturing system right now, he said.
Both new tires, part of Titan's 007 MFT line, feature a solid center and large contact area to provide damage resistance, self-cleaning grooves for traction and tie-bars for lug stabilization and even treadwear. The 49-inch tire has an 86/32-inch tread depth and 60,000-pound load capacity, while the 51-inch has a 98/32-inch tread depth and a load capacity of 85,500 pounds.
Mr. Taylor said Titan will produce the new sizes at Bryan and estimated each line will have an initial capacity of about 1,000-1,500 units per year. At a price of about $9,000 for a 49-inch tire and $15,000 for a 51-inch tire, that potentially could boost the company's annual revenue between $24 million and $36 million in 2010.
Mr. Taylor added that 2010 should also be a good year for Titan's 63-inch tires, of which the company produced more than 1,000 in 2009. Its goal for this year is at least to match that figure, he said.
Our plan is to turn around and crank them out, and we're just going to keep our nose right to the ground.
While Titan has enough capacity to produce 6,000 63-inch tires annually, Mr. Taylor said market demand for the tires has diminished due to the economic climate and the gradual dissipation of the tire shortage that has plagued the industry for several years.
The only way I'm going to get that type of business, number one, is I got to build a better tire, number two is my pricing (has to drop) and then everybody else is going to have to scramble, he said.
But that's not what I really think is going to happen, not in the foreseeable future. In the foreseeable future, what I see is us gaining and gaining and gaining, but we're never going to get all of the business.
Ultimately, Mr. Taylor said, Titan's goal is to secure one-third of the global mining tire business.
So far, Mr. Taylor said Titan's 63-inch tires have met performance standards, although last summer the company responded to reports of premature failures of its giant OTR tires that operated in severe conditions in Canada.
To help remedy the problem, Titan equipped those tires with pressure and temperature sensors.
At that time, Mr. Taylor acknowledged some failuresparticularly with tires run at high speed over long distances and with heavy loads.
But he said the conditions those tires were subjected to are beyond the rated conditions of any tire this size.
Our competitors' tires don't hold up to these excessive conditions either, he said. In these tests, Titan's tires were getting too hot in the steel belt, which was melting the rubber, resulting in a failure.
Mr. Taylor said the average life of a 63-inch tire in the oil sands is about 5,000 hours, while one of the tires in question had seen about 10,000 hours of use. He told Tire Business that the same tire running at 40 miles per hour will probably get about 3,000 hours of use.
While Titan is focused on adding new products to its OTR radial portfolio, Mr. Taylor also stressed the emphasis the tire maker is placing on improving treadwear and performance on its current tires through the use of new compounds and different belt-package designs.
We're going to turn around and get better , he said.
Other plans for the near future include the addition of two more sizes in 63-inch wheel diameters, said Mr. Taylor, who added that Titan currently produces three sizes59/80R63, 56/80R63 and 53/80R63.
Also in Titan's sights for this year, according to Mr. Taylor, is the development of a 73-inch tire and wheel combination, which he said Titan would like to begin building by summer.
He added that the wheel would be a three-piece design.
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