Continental: High retread demand driving 300% production boost at USA plant
Almost 60 ContiLifeCycle partners around the world, including 30 in the USA and Canada, currently retread tyres using ContiTread treads. Demand for these pre-cure treads is growing in North America. For this reason, Continental is raising production this year at its February 2018-inaugurated tread plant in Mount Vernon, USA by 300 per cent compared to 2018 levels. A second shift was added in March to facilitate this.
“Continental saw a double-digit per cent increase in demand for our retreads in North America last year,” said Tom Fanning, vice president of sales and marketing for commercial vehicle tyres. “We expect that growth to continue as the quality of ContiTread becomes better known in the market and as we continue to add new partners to our ContiLifeCycle retreader network.”
In addition to gaining a second production shift, the pre-cured tread plant is realising efficiencies thanks to its sophisticated manufacturing equipment, as well as its location on Continental’s Mount Vernon campus, home to one of the largest rubber mixing operations in North America.
“We are achieving phenomenal outcomes by leveraging the team’s 40 years of experience in truck tyre manufacturing to improve the tread profiles and rubber mixing process,” says John Barnes, head of ContiLifeCycle retreading for the Americas.
By investing in technologically advanced production machinery, Continental aims to ensure the quality and consistency of its retread products and maximise safety for plant personnel. The company also positions itself as an employer of choice for the manufacturing workforce of the future, which includes programmers and other engineering functions.
“Our changeover process to move from producing one retread pattern to producing a different one is completely driven by programming,” explains Barnes. “Where other plants, from other manufacturers, may have to go through a manual process, we’re able to create an automatic one, driven by digital expertise. This shortens our changeover time significantly. It also requires a different skill set in the operators.”
ContiTread pre-cured tread rubber is solely available to Continental’s ContiLifeCycle retread partners. Many tread patterns within the ContiTread range are identical to those seen on new Continental tyres, and Continental says this gives customers a “looks like new, runs like new” advantage.