The United Kingdom and European Union is importing an increasing tonnage of Off-The-Road (OTR) tyres, as the sector responds to internal and external trends. Externally, sinking shipping costs and relatively controlled production costs are particularly favouring Asian manufacturers. And with Russia’s war on Ukraine making the country a pariah in European trading terms, there are additional reasons to source increasing numbers of OTR tyres from South Asia. Trading relations with Russia’s closest supporter Belarus are also frosting, which could see further gains for Asian factories, while emerging tyre producing nations like Serbia could also reap the benefits. While the size, weight and per unit cost of the largest tyres could present arguments in favour of more localised production, lower manufacturing and materials costs weigh even more heavily in this balance of factors.
Reflecting on the year that was 2022, GRI’s Dr Mahesha Ranasoma comments that the company “made significant strides in building its GreenLeadership credentials” during the year. The chief executive officer adds that the off-highway tyre specialist “weathered the storms and the impact of the global economic downturn” during 2022, continuing to “remain resilient throughout the year.”
Phase 2 of a US$100 million production capacity upgrade at the GRI specialty tyre factory in Sri Lanka is now complete, and GRI reports being in a position to increase capacity by almost 100 per cent from the present level, up to a daily output of 60 tonnes. This elevated capacity will satisfy the increased demand for farm tyres that GRI has enjoyed since launching agricultural ranges across key markets such as Europe, the USA and Australia in 2018.
With its currency the world’s worst-performing at present, Sri Lanka is facing an economic and political crisis. Despite these issues, GRI remains resilient and continues to supply its specialty tyres to global customers. The tyre maker has published a statement underlining its commitment to stand firm during the challenging times prevailing in the island nation.
Sri Lankan tyre maker GRI shares that it has received three awards for demonstrating excellence in business whilst contributing to the country’s economic advancement. It accepted these honours at the recent National Business Excellence Awards 2021, which was hosted by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka.
Shandong Haohua Tire has broken ground on its previously-announced Sri Lanka tyre production base. Senior managers report that the US$300 million-dollar project’s workshop will be ready in mid-2022 and that the plant will go into production in late 2022.
On 31 January 2022 Kelani Tyres PLC announced plans from the Kelani Tyres/Ceat joint venture to invest up to 3.2 billion Sri Lanka rupees (£11.637 million; 13.915 million euros; US$15.801) in increasing its tyre manufacturing capacity via machinery upgrades.
Bestowed by the country’s President, the Presidential Export Award is considered Sri Lanka’s highest honour in recognition of outstanding contribution to the export sector and to the country’s economic development. The most recent awards ceremony took place on 26 November, and tyre maker GRI was named Best Exporter of Dry Rubber Products for the second consecutive year.
With global demand for its specialty tyres on the rise, Sri Lankan off-highway tyre maker GRI is expanding its manufacturing capacity through a range of projects, including construction of a new mixing plant in Mirigama, 40 miles east of Colombo. GRI is investing US$25 million to set up the facility, which will have a capacity of 200 tonnes a day.
Last Friday was an important day for GRI in regards to its environmental engagements – the Sri Lankan tyre maker launched its ‘Greening Our Planet’ project by planting 450 rubber trees at smallholder rubber farms in Moneragala District.
Locally harvested natural rubber is the key raw material that Sri Lankan tyre maker GRI Tires utilises. It thus views natural rubber farmers as important stakeholders in the ‘GRI ecosystem’. This is an ecosystem that “focuses on sustainability and aims to inspire the farming communities by recognising their work as well as providing knowledge and skills for their development and optimising the yields from their natural rubber farms.”
GRI Tires reports that the second phase expansion of its new production facility, which began in January 2021, is progressing well despite the challenges posed by the current lockdown in Sri Lanka. It is building the new and advanced specialty tyre manufacturing plant next to the current facility with a total investment of US$100 million.
Sri Lankan tyre maker GRI Tires strives to be a responsible company that always recognises the importance of giving back to the country and its people, especially in times of need. Managing director Prabhash Subasinghe states that it “is ingrained in our DNA as an organisation to give back to society.”
GRI has held the latest in its series of events organised through its GREEN X Circle initiative. GRI’s Monaragala, Sri Lanka event brought together natural rubber and rice farmers to show their connectivity. Both farming communities are key stakeholders in the GRI value chain, the Sri Lankan speciality and agricultural tyre manufacturer states. The initiative’s purpose is to foster connectivity and collaboration between the two farming ecosystems while placing emphasis on sustainability principles.