GKN develops Michelin X Tweel wheel
Unveiled in July, the Michelin X TWEEL SSL 2 – an airless tyre for skid steers – features a completely new wheel developed and manufactured by GKN Wheels. The Tweel is a single, fully-integrated unit which replaces the traditional tyre/wheel/valve assembly. This means there is no need for costly and time-consuming wheel and tyre mounting to be carried out – and once the unit is bolted to the vehicle, there is no air pressure to maintain.
The launch of this “Tweel” represented the culmination of a four-year, collaborative research and development programme, with a team of engineers from GKN Wheels’ Center of Excellence in North America working in close partnership with Michelin to develop this innovative solution.
Commenting on the launch, GKN Wheels’ chief engineer, Americas, Aaron Dahl said: “It’s really exciting to see this innovative new product now in operation, with huge credit going to the joint project team that turned a vision into reality. Bringing together our expertise in wheels with Michelin’s expertise in tyres has proved to be a winning combination.
“Quite rightly given the unique nature of the product, the development program was rigorous and exhaustive. The result though is a Tweel which not only looks great, but also delivers significant benefits for skid steer loaders which typically operate in the most demanding and challenging environments. The use of Tweel completely eliminates the risk of punctures, reduces down-time, improves efficiency and ultimately reduces cost of ownership for contractors and rental fleet operators.”
“The Michelin Tweel has been a disruptive technology not only to the tire industry, but also the wheel industry,” said John Duty, product development engineer, Michelin Tweel Technologies. “Developing a robust, yet competitive wheel part for the SSL TWEEL 2 has been a challenge, however thanks to GKN Wheels’ knowledge and capability in this segment, we were able to address significant customer pain points while improving manufacturability, creating a stronger value proposition for the end user.”