Specially Built Tires Ready for Rough and TumbleWed, 10/21/2015 - 10:55
Since Yokohama Tire Corporation (Yokohama) launched its Mexican subsidiary, the off-road market has spawned a series of opportunities for the Japanese giant. The subsidiary officially began operations in March 2013 and soon made its lucrative entry into the mining segment. Humberto Gomez, Director General of Yokohama Tire Mexico, explained this business case in depth. “Mexico is one of the fastest growing mining markets globally. This is true in terms of the increase in large open-pit mining, the growing use of giant haulage trucks and loaders, and the demand in specially built tires for severe operations in underground mining.” After spotting this opportunity, Yokohama needed to first identify the varying mining conditions that its tires would have to contend with in Mexico, and test their ability to withstand said conditions. It dispatched teams to perform a J.C.R. (job condition report) in Mexican mines and identify major criteria, such as the operations being carried out, the vehicles being used, the terrain being navigated, the estimated monthly usage, and the tire specifications needed. The latter is particularly important since Yokohama makes use of custom compounds in its tire manufacturing, which vary according to the usage profile.
A reverse analysis is also needed, as the durability of a tire and its impact on the speed of a machine or vehicle will have a direct effect on a mine’s productivity and cost per ton-hour. Gomez states that Yokohama takes this matter into account from early on. “The durability of all OTR tires has a big impact on proper product selection and we take this into account right through to how we install products based on job conditions. Yokohama products are all designed to improve efficiency in hard rock and underground mining operations by offering a variety of custom compounds, such as cut-protected tires, or those made from compounds such as RET, RER, and CPC,” he says. The company’s tires can also be custom-compounded to withstand high speeds, heavy loads, or rugged terrain, all reassuring necessities for a mining operator that needs to know if its tires can take the strain.
Yokohama’s J.C.R. strategy seems to be paying off as it reports that its specialty tires are in demand for loaders, dump trucks, and underground mining vehicles used in Mexican mines. In fact, many of Yokohama’s OTR innovations are now being made with the mining sector in mind. Advances in bias technology have made Yokohama the leader for bias OTR products in dump trucks and loaders, while this development drive is also being applied to new radial product development, such as 49-inch, 51- inch, and 57-inch radial tires. Gomez points to the fact that Yokohama’s recent development of underground mine radial products offers end-users a wider product portfolio to pick from in order to meet their mine site requirements. “All new products are designed and evaluated prior to mass production. This evaluation determines product compound selection and tread patterns designed to produce varying degrees of traction, cut resistance, flotation, wear resistance and heat resistance depending on the job and the conditions,” he adds. The construction of OTR tires depends, to a large extent, on the intended use of the tire. For example, dump trucks must travel under heavy load at high speeds over relatively long distances. Therefore, their tires must have high heat and wear resistance as well as high resistance to cuts. Comparatively, front-end loaders operate on rough ground, making both cut and wear resistance vital while the tires must provide stability for the loader body. Finally, vehicles for underground mining operations need tires that are highly durable as well as highly resistant to cuts, punctures, and snags, especially on the sidewalls.
Gomez moves on to another essential point that he feels should make mining operators choose Yokohama tires: cost. “Yokohama OTR products are designed to deliver the lowest cost per hour, which means our tires perform for far longer. Furthermore, the retreadability of the casing that Yokohama has designed is superior, granting extra life to our tires and preventing them from being scrapped too early,” he says. Adding to this are Yokohama’s efforts to recycle their old tire material, both decreasing the environmental impact of the tire business and helping mining companies become that little bit greener. “We work with retreaders and support groups that are involved in using scrap tires as a source of energy. Common customers of this source are cement factories that are equipped to burn tires as an alternate fuel.”