TYRES TREAD A POSITIVE PATH
Tyre design for port operation continues to advance. John Bensalhia identifies the latest initiatives.
While there is a greater shift towards energy-saving, emission-free port equipment, a side eff ect of this is that it can place extra demand on key items of equipment, such as tyres.
A document released by the Port Equipment Manufacturers Association (PEMA) notes the issues that tyres face with respect to automation and alternative energy technology.
It says that with a sizeable number of ports shifting towards automated operations and/or non-fossil fuel power sources like batteries or fuel cells, this can potentially place larger demands on vehicle tyres.
The report further explains that this is due to greater acceleration and sharper braking brought on by electric battery units and automated equipment. Compare this with the traditional style of cargo handling vehicle – while there’s less pressure on tyres, there’s a greater emphasis on fossil fuel use.
ALLEVIATING THE QUANDRY
In order to alleviate this type of quandary, tyre manufacturers are introducing products and solutions that are designed to cope with modern day demands.
“One of the main trends in ports today is the trend towards automation,” confirms Anika Hannig, Head of Marketing Communications, Commercial Specialty Tyres, Continental Tyres. “If you have a look at the types of machinery being used in today’s ports, you will find an increasingly high number of AGVs. The use of automated machinery affects all components, including tyres.”
Hannig says that there are two things to consider. Positively, an impact of the driver’s behaviour on factors such as wear and tear of the tyre become obsolete, but negatively there is a need for automated checks of the tyre’s health where there is no longer a driver present to manually check them.
“This remains very important as the wrong air pressure is not only one of the biggest causes of premature tyre failure, it also offers another significant benefit,” she confirms.
DEMANDS ON TODAY’S TYRES
As well as the growth in automation, tyre manufacturers are responding to other new requirements from port operators.
“Reliability and stability when operating with heavy loads are common demands placed on today’s tyres,” says Rosanna Kivinummi-Lahdenpohja, Marketing Manager, Nokian Heavy Tyres, adding, “Today’s notable trends in tyres when operating in ports and terminals are safety and stability in all conditions. In addition, the combination of intelligent sensors and tyres to support economical, efficient and safe use of tyres.”
Hannig adds that there are two more major demands: a low wear rate of the tyre and the lowest total cost of ownership. “To address these demands, it is crucial to have a look at the specifics of the different vehicles and different applications – especially at times where machines develop, and vehicles are providing more variable functions.”
Hannig further explains that Continental distinguishes different operational tasks – such as pick and stack applications or load and carry applications. “Vehicles such as reach stackers are used to load and unload containers,” she says, before confirming, “There is a lot of short distance driving with a high volume of turning on the spot. At Continental, we offer V.ply tyres for this kind of application. They are the right choice for such applications, as they reduce heat generation and abrasion, the two primary causes of tyre wear, to significantly extend tyre life – and therefore to reduce costs.”
Another means to reduce tyre wear is the compound. “Tyres have to adapt to changes in vehicle design,” says Hannig. “Manufacturers are making vehicles more compact now so they can work in narrower spaces. This means the axles are much heavier than they used to be, which means we needed to make the compound more resistant to tearing and wearing. At Continental, we launched our Port Plus compound with improved wear performance in 2018 to meet these demands by reducing tyre heat generation, minimising wear and consequently extend tyre life significantly.
Nokian Tyres has also established solutions to ensure tyre strength and lower risk of wear and tear. “We have developed rubber compounds to prevent accidental tyre damages and to extend the operating hours of the tyres,” says the company. Examples from this manufacturer include tyres that can cope with the challenges of heavy loads and extreme weather conditions. The Nokian Hakkapeliitta Truck E2 tyre is designed to manage thick snow and slippery ice.
Teppo Siltanen, Product Manager, Nokian Tyres, explains that the new tyre has a number of special features that make movement much easier in bad weather. “Nokian Hakkapeliitta Truck E2 has better stability as well as grip in both deep and packed snow. Also, the grip lasts longer, thanks to some clever tread pattern features.”
Also, Nokian’s R-Truck Steer XL is a tyre designed to cope with heavy stresses. Siltanen explains, the tyre can cope with “the heaviest construction and timber trucks...” We want, he adds, to open up new possibilities for heavy trucks. The Nokian R-Truck Steer XL tyre brings good off-road properties to a new weight class. The open tread pattern and wide grooves mean that the tyre has a solid grip for controlled steering in all kinds of driving conditions. When used on rough surfaces, the stone ejectors in the tyre grooves ensure a long lifespan, which is also prolonged by the tyre’s rubber compound, resulting in low heat build-up and slow wear.
Considering challenging port handling environments, Trelleborg’s T-900 and TR-900 tyres include a number of aspects that are designed to make operations easier. The T-900 includes a reinforced sidewall that provides extra resistance to sudden side impacts. Stability and traction are boosted, thanks to the T-900’s extra wide tread. Meanwhile, the TR-900 tyre is designed to reduce the build-up of heat, helping to extend its life-cycle, and thus, save the port operator money.
The Magna ranges of tyres are designed with the same principles in mind. Specially created compounds ensure improved stability and longer lifetime. The Magna MB01’s wear-resistant tread compound has been made to avoid tyre cracks and provide an extended life-cycle. It is reported to be a tyre that offers reinforced support capability and a low level of heat generation, adding to its longevity.
Geared towards straddle carrier use, Magna’s M-Straddle+ is said to be able to increase a load rate by seven per cent due to its reinforced casing. It is also claimed that a straddle carrier driver can experience greater comfort and boosted dynamic stability, thanks to the strong rib pattern of the M-Straddle+. Plus, the tyre is said not to get too hot due to special heat dissipation feature.
Modern day tyres are widening their horizons. In order to better reflect the broad choice of applications that it is suitable for, Continental has recently renamed one of its port tyres formerly known as StraddleMaster+ to TerminalMaster V.ply.
“In this way, the name of the tyre is not only limited to use on straddle carriers, it also includes use generally in industrial heavy-duty transports,” says Hannig. “Further, the name also shows the construction type of the tyre which is based on multiple layered high resistance polymer fibre construction.
"According to Continental, the proven V.ply tyre portfolio offers a high degree of stability with excellent turning on the spot conditions, strong sidewalls and new abrasive and crack resistant compound.”
Remote monitoring, simulating for optimum design…
Hannig explains that digital tyre monitoring systems like ContiPressureCheck and ContiConnect help operators of automated fl eets to achieve an overview of the pressure and temperature of each tyre deployed.
“If a value deviates from the recommendation, it automatically warns, and a fleet operator can stop the vehicle and adjust the pressure and temperature before a tyre failure happens,” she explains.
Modern technology is also being used to devise ways of testing the strength of new tyres. Continental uses virtual as well as real testing.
“Virtual prototypes and 3D testing in our simulation lab help us to simulate the actual use of the tyre and its behaviour when used in real applications,” says Hannig.
She explains why this is a benefit. “The range of parameters that can be analysed during such simulations reaches from deformation and deflection behaviour under load to heat development when driven at higher speed.
"With the help of virtual testing, we are able to reduce the number of development cycles for the sake of a fast development and delivery of our tyres to the customer.”
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