“BKT is at the forefront of sustainable manufacturing”
Rajiv Poddar, joint MD, Balkrishna Industries, has strong principles in place and over the years has several landmark credits to his name and the company he runs.
What are some of the unique features of Earthmax vis-à-vis other OTRs?
Earthmax is designed to ensure enhanced load distribution on the ground for dumpers, wheel-loaders, dozers, graders and other multi-purpose vehicles. This tyre is a milestone in BKT’s history – the result of thinking big, research and improvement while introducing new ideas and approaches to the market.
This tyre can master harsh terrains thereby demonstrating great versatility and durability. Earthmax has ‘All Steel’ casing compared to the ‘Nylon’ fabric casing of other OTR tyres. It has a single body ply made of steel cords and the crown area is reinforced by steel cord material ensuring less build-up of heat. The casing allows the tyres to bear resistance against impacts and other adverse conditions while providing stability, comfort and enhancing longevity.
Over the last 10 years, what are some of the technology or innovations that have happened in Earthmax since its launch?
We cannot ignore trends in the industry that is facing unprecedented changes in technology at a global level. Next-generation tyre technology in line with forthcoming changes across vehicle-equipment development has resulted in new concepts in fleet and site management.
In spite of these trends being at a nascent stage, we are researching for solutions to cope with sensor-assisted autonomous transportation, enhanced tyre and equipment integration systems, data flow and analytics optimisation for increased productivity. All this is being initiated in compliance with sustainability, diverse mobility, electrification and safety. Through tyre simulation, we gain knowledge and control of a series of parameters such as inflated dimensions, the static footprint under different load conditions, load deflection behaviour in the contact area, contact pressure distribution, rolling circumference data, and the impact of the steel belt width on tyre performance.
This kind of tyre simulation leads to the creation of a virtual prototype enabling a more rapid product development. We can reduce the number of physical prototypes to be build, and save time from design schedules.
While improving our products and enhancing technologies, it is our responsibility and also a great opportunity and challenge to make our contribution towards a more sustainable future for everyone living on this planet.
BKT is at the forefront of sustainable tyre manufacturing. We have entered into a Joint Research Agreement with KULTEVAT Inc., a leading US biotechnology company, specialised in the cultivation and processing of TKS Dandelion as a renewable and sustainable alternative for natural rubber, which has become a critical raw material. After a series of experimentation, we will develop new compounding methods to be integrated in the tyre manufacturing process, and TKS Rubber will replace the use of natural rubber. The agreement involves a first project stage with several sample deliveries for Lab Research by October 2018, whereas stage two of the project provides the supply of one metric tonne of stabilised TKS Rubber by October 2019. In addition to lab optimisation and manufacturing process trials on all of our tyre ranges, we will also focus on compounding methods for the specific OTR segment.
We are developing high-performance compounds by using nano-materials, which ensure improved thermal and mechanical stability. Examples for this experimental research are graphene, nano clay and carbon black.
How do you work out the math for making tyres for different machines?
Having studied several markets over the last decade, we have learnt that according to the specific country and location, particularly taking into account climate and geophysical conditions, there are different expectations and hence there has to be site-specific performance criteria. To meet these requirements, new products are needed with specific product design.
Over the last decade, we have developed a variety of different OTR radial patterns and sizes for specific applications or environmental conditions such as snow, aggregates, mud and earth, rock, recycling, or underground mining. We have started from smaller sizes for loaders, added tyres for rigid dumpers and finally reached the giant segment.
Post development of the 27.00 R49 size in three different patterns, namely EARTHMAX SR 45 PLUS, SR 46 and SR 48, we studied the effects of tread design features on performance taking into consideration heat development, heat dissipation, and wear characteristics. This knowledge will be applied for designing optimised tread patterns for 51” and 57” sizes, which are expected to be released in the Q2 2019 and the Q2 2020, respectively.
Earthmax has a range of tyres. How has the range performed over the years in terms of numbers and satisfaction?
We are coming up with many new sizes based on applications and customer requirements. BKT is also providing after-sales support to buyers and end-users. Our products are performing well across the world in various mines. Many OEM/customers/end users are using our products and their feedback is encouraging.