Rubberway: Michelin & Continental team up for rubber supply chain JV

The natural rubber supply chain is very complex. It includes around six million farmers, 100,000 intermediaries and over 500 processing plants. To bring greater transparency to the supply chain, two ‘top-five’ tyre makers are now cooperating with a third party in a joint venture: Michelin and Continental, together with IT agricultural specialist Smag, have formed a company to further develop and deploy a technological solution for mapping sustainability practices. The client-facing portion of this technology is a smartphone app called Rubberway.

Rubberway is a technological solution that maps and assesses practices and risks regarding environmental issues, social affairs, and Corporate Social Responsibility governance throughout the natural-rubber industry, from rubber-processing plants downstream to plantations upstream. The Rubberway app provides its tyre manufacturer users with the collected data and enable them to identify and improve sustainability in the natural rubber chain.

Michelin has been working with Smag on Rubberway for around three years; the solution was officially launched in Singapore on 6 July 2017. Rubberway is designed in compliance with the objectives of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) and already used in some main rubber production countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana and Brazil.

The French tyre maker brings its rights of use and exploitation for Rubberway to the new joint venture, as well as its user experience of it in the field. Continental is demonstrating its interest in this solution by investing in the joint venture and, in doing so, opens the door to wider use of the application by other tyre makers and automotive parts manufacturers. Smag is sharing all its technological and sector-specific expertise in digital solutions for agriculture.

Through this joint venture, the partners are seeking to make Rubberway an independent solution that can be easily used by all the other natural rubber players, thereby facilitating greater transparency in the supply chain and accelerating the rise of responsible practices within the natural rubber industry.

The joint venture is due to begin business before the end of 2019, subject to validation by the relevant antitrust authorities.

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