Laurent: Retreads from Germany for the Whole of Europe
Together with its parent company in France, Laurent Reifen GmbH from Germany is Europe’s largest retreader. For more than 50 years the long established company has played a major role in Europe as an industrial retreader. The factory in Oranienburg in the German state of Brandenburg (close to Berlin) has an annual production capacity of more than 200,000 units of retreaded truck and trailer tyres. Furthermore, in Germany as well as in Avallon, France, more than 2,500 pre-cured treads are produced every day. With about 120 different treads in all the major sizes available the company can supply new treads for almost every commercial tyre application. And the German company and its French parent are not only represented in these two countries; Laurent, as a member of the French Michelin group, is also represented in Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland.
The use of retreaded truck tyres not only has a positive effect on fleet cost levels; retreading also helps to save raw materials. Whereas the production of a retreaded truck tyre only requires the consumption of about 20 kilograms of rubber, the production of a new tyre consumes between 60 and 80 kilograms – three to four times more than the retreading process. Furthermore, the use of retreaded truck tyres – and their production – saves about 500,000 tonnes of crude oil every year in the European Union alone. This is equivalent to a 1,300,000 tonne reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions. A high quality casing can be retreaded up to three times – and it still offers the same mileage and safety.
Mould-cure and pre-cured retreading
Laurent Reifen GmbH applies both retreading processes, mould-cure and pre-cured retreading. The company’s Oranienburg facility specialises in mould-cure retreading; about 80 per cent of all the truck tyres retreaded there are produced according to this procedure. During the mould-cure procedure new rubber is applied to the previously buffed casing. Then the casing is vulcanised in a vulcanisation mould just like a new tyre. During the pre-cured retreading procedure the casing of the (truck) tyre is rebuilt through the use of a pre-cured tread that’s applied to the casing – both are combined in a curing chamber, the so-called autoclav. The latter procedure is mainly used for small batches of tyres. At Laurent in Oranienburg about 20 per cent of retreads are of the pre-cured variety. Since 2006 pre-cured retreads have been produced according to the so-called SEPL process, which is exclusively used at Laurent Reifen’s Oranienburg facility.
Personal customer relationships throughout the whole of Germany
Laurent Reifen GmbH offers its customer relationship management throughout the whole of Germany. Customers have contacts at both the production facility in Oranienburg and at home through Laurent’s sales representatives. In addition to customer support that covers all of Germany and preferential support for key account customers, Laurent offers unique technical and logistical services with the collection of casings for the tyre dealer. These services include, for example, the quality control of casings right where they are collected: with the tyre dealer. Every day about 500 used casings enter the retreading process in Oranienburg after being collected from all parts of Germany.
Premium “Made in Germany” quality
Laurent Reifen GmbH represents top “Made in Germany” quality. In order to maintain quality at the expected consistent high levels, the company has implemented a system of quality control that’s goes beyond the norm. Literally all the different factors of production – man, machine, milieu, material and method – are taken into consideration in order to keep up production standards. The vast number of quality checks range from entry control by means of shearography to end control by means of other sophisticated technologies that allow for the detection of even the smallest hole in a retreaded tyre. Every single tyre retreaded at Laurent Reifen is marked in such a way that every step in the production process can be traced back.
With its quality management system Laurent Reifen GmbH fulfils even the high standards of the Michelin group. Since 2006 the high quality levels have even been certified according to DIN ISO 9001. Truck tyres retreaded at Laurent are tested according to the same standards as new truck tyres. Thus, Laurent’s retreads are in compliance with the ECE-R109 norm, which has also been binding for all retreaders since 2006. Furthermore, the raw materials that are used in the retreading process have to pass the high standards set out by the French new tyre giant, thus Laurent only uses rubber compounds and vulcanising moulds from Michelin.
Increased qualifications for employees
Continued training and support for employees is on top of Laurent’s priority list. Apart from internal sessions arranged for every employee, they also have to attend quality, development and technology workshop or “training on the job” in Laurent’s headquarters in Avallon in France. Furthermore, employees are also offered French lessons. Continued training and support is deemed to increase the know-how of Laurent’s employees and thus help ensure that the company has a future. At the same time all these measures help increase the motivation of Laurent’s employees.
Green production and products
Respecting environmental needs is one of the fundamental principles of Laurent Reifen GmbH, something that’s true for the whole Michelin group. For example, there are closed life cycles in the production process which allow for the complete recycling of all industrial wastes and the use of excess heat (from the production process) in order to partly replace central heating – production thus operates at an increased level of efficiency. Harmful materials like high-aromatic oils are completely banned from the production process in Oranienburg and the use of solvents is reduced to a minimum. In the course of this year the Laurent Reifen GmbH will receive ISO 14001 certification for its high environmental standards. By means of continued modernisation measures and the development of modern technologies the European market leader puts all its emphasis on further increasing the degree of environmental compatibility of retreaded truck tyres.