Auto & truck tyres hosts a combination launch to liven up the industry

Auto and Truck Tyres recently held a combined launch at their Wadeville Head Office

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Auto and Truck Tyres recently held a combined launch at their Wadeville Head Office introducing the now locally manufactured Marangoni RINGTREAD™ system from Leader Rubber Company in combination with ATT’s new Powder Coating facility for truck, OTR and industrial rims.

Guests were invited for a presentation and facility tour that was followed by lunch and refreshments in ATT’s new bar. RINGTREAD™ is the latest in pre-cured retread technology that brings some interesting advantages and aesthetics to an arena which has seen little local excitement for the past few decades.

ATT looks to liven up the retread industry with its new innovative and price competitive offering to the local truck tyre retreading market. Although not completely new or unknown locally and already track proven in Europe, the RINGTREAD™ system was previously set at a premium price point as it was imported from Marangoni Italy resulting in limited market interest.

With Leader Rubber Company’s decision to now locally manufacture the technology, the price point will come in at a far more competitive rate that will appeal to a much wider audience. The highlight of the ATT launch of the locally manufactured RINGTREAD™ was that it was one of the very first times customers could expect a price reduction as opposed to the usual increase.

This comes just at the right time where many users who are bored and unimpressed with the current offerings, are looking to reduce the retreaded tyres in their fleets rather than taking advantage of the most cost effective saving method available to them. Many have lost sight of the importance of having a decent retreading program in their fleet. Possible reasons for this is the narrowing price gap between lower cost imported new tyres and retreads, especially stock retreads.

However logic informs us that the more lives you get from one casing the more economically you must be running. Without question the most important part of the retread life is the quality and condition of the casings. Second to that is cost, reliable performance, supplier service, including turnaround time and repair quality, all of which makes the customer comfortable knowing that he doesn’t have to concern himself with much more than the maintenance of his tyres.

So in an ideal world the user needs to maintain his tyres in a way that protects and preserve them for at least one more life. The user should always think “one more life” and the retreader must provide a product that performs well in the current life and is gentle enough on the casing to preserve it for at least one more life. Up to now the current products have provided all of the above requirements satisfactorily, but we should all strive for improvement and ATT can never be accused of resting on its laurels.

While the local retreading world may appear to be stagnating there has been some exciting movement happening in Wadeville at what is known to be one of the biggest retreading plants the world.

RINGTREAD™ is defined firstly by its structure, which is a pre-cured ring form that is spliceless. Current practice involves a flat piece of tread that is applied to a tyre casing. The casing is buffed to the best possible texture, radius and overall uniformity. The flat tread is then measured and cut to place around the buffed area. The immediate difference is that traditional methods result in a retread that has a join and that the flat tread will give some resistance to taking on the shape and form of the rounded casing until cured in the chamber.

That being said, the strength or weakness of any retread is the casing. Extremely few retreads fail due to the retread or bonding. Some forty years back, CSIR or SABS performed a study along the Witbank highway, as it was then called, on the pieces of truck tyres lying on and next to the highway. About 84% of the pieces were found to be from new tyres. Retreads were represented but the findings showed that retreading is a very reliable practice and retreads a very reliable product.

It can definitely take a stand point of being a superior quality product and one of the major advantages has to do with its design. As tyre casings age, they lose tension and rigidity. To simplify matters, they soften and stretch more with each life. Truck tyres are designed with more than one life in mind, so they take a lot of punishment before they start coming apart.

The design ensures that it is gentler on the casing than other processes. When a tyre is in motion, centrifugal force causes the tyre to stretch to a teardrop shape and then recover, this increases heat build-up and therefore ageing. With it being manufactured as a ring and in the shape of the tyre it is intended to be fitted to, it effectively reduces the stretching and effects of centrifugal forces.

Theoretically this would preserve the carcass integrity and increase the chance of another life. From an aesthetic perspective, the RINGTREAD™ is also far better looking and the finish far neater than conventional retreads.

To complement their tyre offering, ATT boasts a Rim Engineering Centre in Wadeville where rim repair, refurbishment and make-up is available. Up until recently, sandblasting and spraying was the accepted finish for all rims.

While spraying is still widely accepted, ATT decided to explore more efficient options as part of their ever evolving strategy. Powder Coating has long been believed to be too costly, but with some insight it has turned out to be just as price effective as traditional spray painting, but with far better benefits.

Spray-painting firstly requires a certain level of trained skill to apply the product correctly. The risk of over spraying is quite evident, which could result in the paint either bulging or running, affecting the overall finish and quality of the end product. Powder coating on the other hand is applied as a dry powder with an electrostatic process, so the microns remain consistent and therefore there is no risk of product build-up.

Powder coating is also considered a far more environmentally sound practice when compared to spraying as there are no Volatile Organic Compounds released and the remaining powder is collected by vacuum from the application process and can be re-used.

When looking at the finish, spraying requires time and ideal climate conditions to dry, resulting in a longer turn-around time and the risk of the finish being damaged if the paint doesn’t dry sufficiently before the product is handled. Powder coated products are cured with heat, resulting in a significantly harder and more durable finish that only requires around a forty five minute cooling time before the rims are ready to be packaged and delivered and look far more superior than their sprayed counterparts.

The actual benefit of using powder coated rims ties in with rim maintenance, which it is a crucial element to ensuring a tyres full lifespan. As the rim fits far better on the bead and with no abrasive surface to wear away the bead, the longevity of the entire wheel assembly is improved.

The benefits of powder coating can therefore be determined to far outweigh that of spraying and ATT hopes to see customers take advantage of their new offering as well as see an increase in RINGTREAD™ users.

Sharon Styger (Marketing) and Marcus Haw (Specialist Consultant)

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