When the firm adds a new testing area at the Charles City factory, he anticipates it will support even faster development of the company's products.
“We develop products and solutions with the clear target of increasing the productivity and the efficiency of our customers and also to reduce the environment impact in terms of CO2 emissions,” Mr. Pompei said when discussing the firm's R&D setup.
In a very competitive market environment, he noted that Trelleborg's aim is to lower the working time for its customers and, more importantly, cut fuel consumption.
“This is particularly important in North America,” he said, “where there is, in my opinion, still a lot to gain when we talk about efficiency in tires.”
He views the U.S. agricultural market as the biggest in the world and said the company's R&D capabilities in North America will play an important role in delivering products dedicated to the market.
Because of that, Trelleborg has put its plan in place to bolster and expand the capabilities of the R&D units at the Spartanburg and Charles City factories.
Further training of technicians at the sites is also a target in 2016 and 2017, Mr. Pompei noted. That will be achieved through a team of technicians traveling from Trelleborg's service center in Italy to the company's U.S. operations. “At least two expert trainers will be present continuously,” he said.
Key focus areas
“Our R&D organization is based on five technical centers that perform product development activities in Europe, Asia and America,” Mr. Pompei said. “All in all, more than 140 technicians are organized to provide quick responses thanks to our local presence.
“They also ensure consistency and standardization of product performance from whatever product is produced. This is due to a central approval on concept design and final release.”
Trelleborg has people fully dedicated to long-term projects and strategic investments, Mr. Pompei said, “along with colleagues working on continuous improvement and product development.”
The two teams are connected under the R&D banner. However, he said, they work in parallel. “You need to separate the two teams if you want to focus on long-term projects and innovative ideas.”
Mr. Pompei said the firm's product development team ties in with its commercial development strategy, setting targets in cooperation with the company's marketing and sales team.
“The advanced engineering team is focused on medium-term developments based on our trend analysis as well as joint development with premium tractor makers,” he said.
Trelleborg tests all incoming materials in addition to products at the plants, because it is an important part of the firm's quality control, he added.
Adding Mitas' tire operations to Trelleborg Wheel will yield a business with more than $950 million in annual sales. North America accounted for 26 percent of Trelleborg Wheel's fiscal 2015 sales, or $133 million; CGS generated 9 percent of its fiscal 2015 sales in the Americas, or nearly $60 million.
Mike McNulty is a reporter with Rubber & Plastics News.