(l-r) Dr Masato Naito, manager of research and development headquarters at Sumitomo Rubber Industries; Dr Bernd Löwenhaupt, managing director of Sumitomo Rubber Europe; Kozaburo Nakaseko, senior executive officer of Sumitomo Rubber Industries
Sumitomo Rubber Industries’ global brand Falken has won the Tire Technology of the Year Award at the annual awards for innovation and excellence. An independent panel of 27 international tyre industry experts presented the brand’s Advanced 4D Nano Design technology, the latest development of the pioneering work debuted by SRI in 2014, with the accolade on 15 February 2017 at the Tire Technology Expo in Hannover, Germany.
Falken says its use of Advanced 4D Nano Design technology has resulted in improved traction and wear life as well as significantly reduced rolling resistance. The technology is used in Falken’s range-topping Azenis FK510, the Azenis FK543 Runflat and latest additions to Falken’s commercial vehicle tyres, the Linam VAN01, Eurowinter VAN01, Nordic Winter Truck Tyre SI021/SI011 and regional traffic tyres RI 151 and BI 851.
Developed by Falken’s parent company Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI), the world’s sixth largest tyre manufacturer, Advanced 4D Nano Design enables engineers to perform highly realistic simulations of the complex internal structures and behaviours of rubber materials across multiple scales of magnitude simultaneously. It utilises the combined capabilities of the Spring-8 synchrotron radiation facility, which is able to analyse the internal structures of rubber; the J-PARC Proton Accelerator and Experimental Facility, which analyses the behaviour of molecules; and the K computer, which is one thousand times more powerful than typical supercomputers. The SRI-patented Advanced 4D Nano Design technology allows for accurate predictions of rubber material properties for simultaneous improvements across all three of the major contradictory performance traits: grip, fuel efficiency and wear resistance.
It is the fifth time that SRI has been presented with a Tire Technology International Award: the Enasave 97 passenger tyre scooped the Tire Technology of the Year prize in 2008, with SRI’s fourth-generation runflats receiving the accolade in 2010. It has also won the Environmental Achievement of the Year Award in 2009 and 2014.
This year’s Tire Technology of the Year Award was collected by Kozaburo Nakaseko, senior executive officer of Sumitomo Rubber Industries. He states: “We have made great progress in terms of material innovation and the development of new manufacturing processes. This in turn has paved the way for the development of such high-performance tyres as our Falken Ecorun A-A, which achieves the maximum A-A ranking under Europe’s tyre labelling system, as well as durable, long-lasting performance technology.
“Further, utilising advanced research facilities on the cutting edge of super photon science and a world-class supercomputer for ongoing structural analysis of rubber materials, Sumitomo Rubber Industries will continue to accelerate research. This will further our understanding of the internal structures and phenomena of rubber in greater detail so that we may succeed in developing tyres with ever greater added value.”
Graham Heeps, editor of Tire Technology International and chairman of the judging panel, says: “With advances such as purified natural rubber and detailed simulation of the tyre’s complex chemistry, experts at SRI have established an enviable reputation in tyre technology in the past few years. Advanced 4D Nano Design pushes the boundaries of tyre science: it sheds new light on how materials interact and opens the door to improved performance and new material developments. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.”
Nakaseko was joined on stage for the presentation by Dr Masato Naito, manager of research and development headquarters at Sumitomo Rubber Industries, and Dr Bernd Löwenhaupt, managing director of Sumitomo Rubber Europe GmbH.
2017 marks the tenth edition of the Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence, the world’s biggest celebration in the field of tyre development and manufacturing. Awards are presented in five main categories after judging by a panel of independent international experts in the field.