Bauma 2013: OTR segment companies anticipate sound growth
Every three years Bauma, the international trade fair for construction machinery, mining machinery, construction vehicles and equipment, takes place in the German city of Munich. The show also serves as a focal point for tyre makers, wholesalers and equipment suppliers serving the off-road segment. And although many within Europe’s tyre industry are not experiencing the best of times at the moment, most Bauma exhibitors were nevertheless in very high spirits and saw themselves, as companies active within the OTR tyre sector, as an “island of the blessed” surrounded by a highly contrasting situation in the passenger car and truck tyre markets. Many exhibitors expressed hope of once again experiencing sound growth within their market segments in 2013, yet one thing was clear: Everyone in the market realises that, in the long-term, real growth will only take place outside of Europe.
It came as no surprise to find numerous global market leaders amongst the 3,420 Bauma exhibitors. This applied equally to the tyre makers present at the show – mostly, at least. The absence of Michelin at this year’s exhibition raised a few eyebrows. According to the French manufacturer, its decision not to exhibit is no big deal; although a Bauma fixture at past shows, Michelin says it is currently overhauling how it will go about presenting its OTR tyres at future trade shows. Bridgestone and Goodyear, who together with Michelin are considered global leaders in the OTR business, returned in 2013 however and used this year’s Bauma as a platform to introduce their latest products to the 530,000 trade visitors attending the show.
Bridgestone – which describes itself as “global OTR tyre leader” – presented its new ‘Total Tyre Care’ concept. “The aim behind Total Tyre Care is to help customers keep tight control on tyre-related costs through maximising the life of their tyres,” explains Bridgestone Europe communications manager Andy Dingley. “The programme is therefore built around three tyre management pillars: Total Tyre Life (including retreadability and retreading), Total Tyre Services and Total Tyre Systems.”
Bridgestone’s European management in Brussels count OTR tyre maintenance and servicing under the ‘Total Tyre Services’ banner; Bridgestone explains it as including “everything a fleet needs, from fleet tyre inspections to professional technical advice on keeping tyres in top condition, for maximising their total tyre life.” OTR tyre dealers who offer the highest quality service will carry the ‘OTR Elite’ label, a designation that will function as “the guarantee that Bridgestone customers are served by audited tyre specialists with the expertise and equipment to provide the best advice and after-sales support, in order to optimise the performance and life of Bridgestone OTR tyres.” Currently some 300 OTR Elite dealers have been audited in France, Germany, Austria, Spain and Switzerland.
‘Total Tyre Systems’ covers tyre tracking and monitoring technology – specifically, Bridgestone’s ‘B-TAG’ real-time tyre pressure monitoring system for giant tyres. Bridgestone states that B-TAG can provide “accurate and reliable reports on the entire performance history of the tyres at a glance.”
Alongside other new additions to the Bridgestone OTR portfolio, the Japanese manufacturer introduced the 20.5 R25 VDSR pattern at Bauma. The presence of world’s largest OTR tyre also ensured Bridgestone’s show stand was a well-photographed one. The 5.2 tonne, 4.02 metre 59/80R63 VRF tyre is intended for high ‘Ton-Kilometre per Hour’ operations and was developed to fit rigid dump trucks up to 400-tons, such as those working in coal-and copper mines.
The Goodyear stand also displayed product-related services alongside new tyres. A main focus was the ‘FleetOnlineSolutions Mobile Technical Evaluation’ (FOS Mte). A Goodyear representative told our sister publication Neue Reifenzeitung, who represented Tyres & Accessories at Bauma, that FOS Mte has been available to OTR segment customers since the start of this year. The argument behind introducing the service is that while tyre quality and performance play an irreplaceable role in maximising the productivity of the machinery they’re fitted to, incorrect fitment and maintenance leads to shorter tyre life, poor performance and therefore higher cost per hour. The tyre maker’s latest support programmes are aimed at ensuring its customers, irrespective of where they operate, receive the backup and advice essential for the maximum return on investment from their tyres.
“OTR tyres are a significant investment but without correct maintenance they will not give the expected performance and will not last long either,” explains Octavian Velcan, managing director of Goodyear OTR Tyres in the EMEA region. “OTR vehicles and equipment, by their nature, frequently operate not only in hostile conditions but also a long way from tyre service workshops. For this reason we offer our two programmes: ‘Goodyear at your Service’ and FleetOnlineSolutions Mobile. Something as basic as tyre pressures can make a huge difference to operating costs and we are able to show a customer just what those cost variations are.”
Goodyear at your Service provides additional expert support when purchasing and operating Goodyear OTR tyres. It is available to all off-road equipment operators in Europe and registration facilitates communication with a local OTR tyre specialist or prompt supply of required information. “The nature of the industry we serve means that often our customers are in remote places, such as in mines or quarries. For this reason, it is not always possible for a tyre technician to make regular visits to advise some customers,” Velcan adds. “Our programs mean that a customer can get essential advice on the fitment, care and maintenance of tyres quickly and accurately – even in the most remote location.”
New Goodyear products on show at Bauma included the EV-4C straddle carrier tyre and the RT-5D wheel loader tyre.
Czech Republic-based manufacturer Mitas and its three European tyre brands is an agricultural segment market leader, however the company is also building up its OTR tyre business. Last year, almost a quarter of the firm’s turnover was generated through MPT, OTR or industrial tyres, and the company’s manufacturing presence in its homeland, in Serbia and the US offers further growth potential. And although many European market segments are already heavily radialised, during the Bauma show Mitas representatives shared that in future the company intends to also offer cross-ply tyres in markets where demand for these exists. Such a product is the new cut and wear resistant Mitas ERL-50, which will be released globally in July.
At present Mitas offers OTR radials in sizes up to 25-inches in diameter, however the portfolio will gradually be extended to include 35-inch or potentially larger fitments. The company produced its first OTR radials four years ago and during the course of this year will release its first radial port tyres. “In future we intend to play an important role within this segment,” a company representative told Tyres & Accessories’ sister publication.
Indian manufacturer Balkrishna Industries – whose brand name BKT stands for Balkrishna Tyres – didn’t just show off its growing earthmover and off-road ranges at Bauma. It also continued with the advertising campaign introduced at the SIMA show in Paris earlier in the year; weary-footed Bauma visitors were ferried from one end of the Munich Trade Fair Centre site in a fleet of 20 BKT-sponsored rickshaws that sported advertisements from the new ‘WOW’ campaign.
In terms of products, BKT displayed an all-new addition to its portfolio, the Airomax AM27. This is a high-speed crane tyre intended for both on and off-road use. It is currently available in size 445/95 R25 and the manufacturer says it offers “maximum robustness even with heavy loads” plus “excellent traction qualities” and cut and heat resistance. Other products on the BKT stand at Bauma included the Earthmax all-steel radial dumper and wheel loader range, which is currently available in ten 25, 33 and 35-inch sizes, the new size 18.00-25 Container King port tyre, the Loader Special and Maglift solid tyre.
As of 1 January, Continental operates its industrial tyre business under the name “Commercial Specialty Tires” and the business unit has voiced its aim of strengthening its presence in off-road segments. To-date, Continental’s presence in the off-road business has mainly centred on industrial, solid and MPT tyres, which have been sold under the Continental and Simex (Malaysia, predominantly port tyres), and at Bauma the company presented a range of underground mining tyres; these are produced in South Africa and marketed under the General brand name (see separate text for more details).
As representatives at Continental’s Bauma stand shared, the OTR tyre market is a growth area. At the end of 2006 the company sold its OTR tyre plant in Bryan (Ohio, US) to Titan International and aligned its strategic focus more towards its car, light commercial and truck tyre businesses. Some half a decade later, the talk at Bauma was that of once more establishing a “larger market presence” in the OTR and earthmover tyre business.
China’s Aeolus Tyres, together with Heuver Tyrewholesale (who exclusively distributes the brand in eight European markets), used Bauma to report the latest company news and show its current portfolio. “We offer our trade partners reliable products and services at very competitive conditions, along with comprehensive, rapid service. We want to emphasise this during the show,” comments company director Bertus Heuver.
Another Dutch tyre firm at the Munich show was earthmover and industrial tyre specialist Magna Tyres, who was present at Bauma with its new German strategic partner, Inter-Pneu. Although the Dutch company has manufactured and distributed rubber compounds and related components for more than three decades, in recent years it has also built up a strong industrial and OTR tyre business. These tyres are manufactured in China under the Magna name and represent a substantially growing business for Magna. In summer, the company will start work on a new warehouse in Waalwijk, The Netherlands.
Gripen Wheels was a first-time exhibitor at Bauma. The Swedish company’s core business is its earthmover tyre business. For this segment, Gripen used to offer two main brands – Hilo and Triangle. These days the company also offers OTR tyres from market leaders Michelin and Goodyear, along with products from other manufacturers.
The 606 and 608 MPT lines represent an expansion of the Alliance off-road portfolio; the company now offers a complete range of 18 to 24-inch tyres for small and medium-sized loaders. These new products were shown at Bauma together with Alliance’s German distributor, Bohnenkamp. The company also showed its extra-wide Dualmaster 506 and 528 tyres, which are designed for use on dual-wheel mobile excavators. The 22.5 inch size tyre has no spacer ring and therefore the dual tyres provide a large, flush contact area. This helps prevent stones or other objects becoming stuck between the tyres and causing damage. The 506 is designed for use on firm ground and the 528 for use on soft ground.
For Munich-based Rema Tip Top, the Bauma show could be viewed as a ‘home game’. The company’s main focus there in regards to OTR tyres was to promote means of extending the working life of valuable OTR and EM tyres and repairing damaged tyres so they can re-enter service. On display were tyre repair materials, vulcanisation machinery, mounting and de-mounting tools – everything needed for successful tyre service in this market segment.
Tyre repair is an area that has profited from a weaker new tyre market, shares Helena Sabo, sales manager at Rema Tip Top Automotive. Rather than purchasing new tyres, OTR vehicle operators spend more on tyre repair and maintenance than during boom times; the repair business effectively operates anti-cyclically. Sabo adds that even though it is too early to make a detailed prognosis about the coming years, Rema Tip Top is confident that the market will develop positively – at least in the area of tyre repair.