Each year, it seems, something new, something different, something innovative shakes up an industry in some way or another.
While nothing such as the development of the pneumatic tire, radial tire or the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) hit the market in 2018, plenty of innovations did.
In one special mid-year issue alone called "Tech4Tomorrow," Tire Business highlighted a number of impending industry changes, not the least of which is the rush to produce a non-pneumatic tire that offers pneumatic-based properties such as comfort, load-bearing capacity and braking/handling/grip. Such a tire could reduce, if not eliminate, the pneumatic tire's Achilles heel: Pressure loss.
While that development seems to be a long way off, some of the innovative changes in the industry that occurred in 2018 include:
Group Michelin entered into an agreement with the Hyundai Motor Corp. to develop tires for electric and luxury vehicles;
Goodyear participated in autonomous vehicle and intelligent tire testing at Mcity, a University of Michigan-led public-private partnership designed to advance connected and automated vehicles and supportive technologies;
Continental A.G. developed a wheel concept to meet specifications for electric vehicles (EVs), consisting of two aluminum parts, an inner aluminum carrier with an aluminum brake disc and an outer aluminum rim well with the tire;
Tire manufacturers report significant upgrades to the radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that some say could alter the tire industry by supporting improvement of the overall quality and gather reams of data for future improvement;
Politicians continued to debate the merits of the industry-supported AV START act, which calls for the establishment of a technology-neutral regulatory framework to advance autonomous vehicle research and development;
NASA scientists aboard the International Space Station conducted experiments on Goodyear's behalf to see how the station's microgravity environment might affect the formation of silica particles. Goodyear said it hopes the experiments will help its engineers and scientists "determine if further investigation of unique forms of precipitated silica should be considered in tires;"
Retread industry supplier Marangoni S.p.A. is collaborating with fellow Italian firm Directa Plus S.p.A. on developing a range of graphene-based rubber compounds for truck and bus tread rubber, working together to develop a propriety version of Directa's Graphene Plus (G+) technology to improve the performance of Marangoni's retreading compounds;
Bridgestone Americas Inc. formed a strategic partnership with Italian polymer producer Versalis S.p.A. to develop technology to commercialize guayule in the agricultural, sustainable rubber and renewable chemical sectors, combining Bridgestone's knowledge in guayule agricultural and production technologies with Versalis' expertise in commercial-scale process engineering and market development for renewables; and
Bridgestone Corp. adopted a Global Sustainable Procurement Policy that will apply to all of the tire maker's purchased materials and services, as well as to its suppliers globally, with three goals: help identify and evaluate qualified suppliers; promote best practices; and serve as a communication and improvement tool for the tire industry.