Radial Tires Optimal for Underground MiningBy Alejandro Ehrenberg | Mon, 01/04/2021 - 16:08
Q: What type of mining operations is Yokohama focusing on?
A: We are leaders in Mexico in underground mining and we are also entering open-pit operations. We have two basic products for underground mining: bias tires and radial construction tires. The latter tire is especially suitable for open-pit operations.
Q: How do you help your clients choose the right OTR tire for their mining operation?
A: Yokohama Tire focuses on customer service. We accompany the customer throughout the purchasing, installation and application process, providing a consultancy service for our clients, rather than just selling them tires. The distributors we work with are very experienced in the Mexican mining sector and they also receive support from our in-house technical team.
Our clients will never buy a tire from us without a thorough evaluation first. Tires are always black and round, but there is a great deal of nuance that is important to understand to select the right tire for a specific job. One has to know the client, its operating conditions, the routes the vehicles will take, the slopes they will travel, the weather and the average site’s temperature and annual rainfall.
Tread pattern is also key. Every industry, including mining, has a booklet published by the Tire and Rim Association. It includes all the specs that each type of tire must feature. Every vehicle used in a specific industry is included. The booklet recommends the kind of tire needed according to certain variables. Based on that and on the variables mentioned above, we can choose a tire with the appropriate tread pattern to meet the client’s needs.
With these variables in mind, we analyze the tires that have already been used to better understand what the opportunity areas are. Only after such an analysis do we proceed to recommend a particular product.
Q: What are the main factors that differentiate underground mines and open-pit mines in terms of the kind of tires that are most suitable?
A: First, vehicle size tends to be much smaller in underground operations, while in open-pit mines, tires of 4m diameter are common. Also, open-pit mines have longer transportation distances and the speed the OTR vehicles reach tends to be higher than in underground operations. We take all these factors into consideration to create a TKPH Index (tons per km per hour) for every particular mine. That tells us what the best tire for that particular operation is.
Q: What benefits do radial construction tires have over bias tires?
A: In radial tires, the cord plies are arranged radially from the center of the tire. They have a single steel ply casing, with cords that run from bead to bead. The tire’s tread on the ground is stabilized by steel belts. This provides more stability and traction than bias tires. Radial tires also heat up much less than bias tires and are more flexible.
These tires are suitable for certain operations. They are ideal for open-pit, as they allow longer trips at higher speeds. These tires sometimes get damaged in underground mining, where bias tires do a better job. But a determination is made project by project.
Yokohama has a robust portfolio of both types of tires — radial and bias — so we can offer comprehensive solutions to the mining industry. Radial tires have been well-received in Mexico. We develop them, as we do our bias tires, in close communication with our plant in Japan. Its R&D is based on what we report from Mexico.
Q: What is the cost per hour rate of the company’s tires?
A: Yokohama is a premium brand, and our goal is to be the best option in terms of cost per hour. In Mexico, generally speaking, price is the most important variable. But mining is an exception. The fact that mining projects are long-term means that miners tend to invest in premium products to optimize their cost per hour KPI. Also, if an OTR suffers downtime because the tire is not reliable, the monetary losses can be huge. Miners are aware that premium products keep their operating costs down and trust Yokohama Tire as their tire supplier.
Yokohama Tire was founded in 1917 and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. It is renowned for quality and high technological development with a variety of premium products, especially tires.