A new R&D set-up is being planned at our new site in Bhuj, which will also include a test track (proving ground) for development of all speciality products, says Dilip M Vaidya, Technical Director, BKT. Excerpts from the interview.
Could you brief us on the impact of tyres on safety?
The tyre is an integral component of a vehicle. It is the intermediate between the vehicle and the road; it provides steering, braking and accelerating forces to the vehicle. Appropriate tyre selection is the first and most important criteria for safety. During usage, the basic requirement of safety is correct tyre inflation pressure that ensures proper deflection which in turn, assures proper traction, flotation, support and prevents excessive flexing of tyres. If the inflation pressure is lower than specified during service, the off-highway tyre (OTR) with thick sectional gauge, will get highly deflected with extreme loads causing excessive flexing on sidewall resulting in higher heat built-up in the tyre, which can cause premature failure.
Is there any move towards alternative source for natural rubber?
Natural rubber can be only partially replaced as the specific properties like, heat built-up, dynamic properties, green strength of synthetic rubber cannot match that of natural rubber. As far as new development is concerned, research work is proceeding on two other alternatives: Guayule rubber and Dandelion rubber, which are the potential replacement of conventional natural rubber.
What is your take on tyres with less resistance for better fuel economy?
Since we are basically dealing in off-highway tyres, there is no high significance to rolling resistance. However, with the introduction of high speed tractors in European countries, which run at 65 to 70 kmph with a high percentage running on road, it has become now relevant and we are working in this regard.
We have designed our 65 series tractor radial tyres for such high speed tractors with advance technology for getting lower rolling resistance apart from other parameter by adapting features such as unique tread design, optimum lug angle, advance tread compound, and special construction of tyre.
What were the major objectives when you set up your R&D in 2008?
BKT's R&D was set up in 2008 at Chopanki with the major objectives of developing new materials, new process in tyre manufacturing, and development of new products, vendor development and development of cost-effective materials for tyre manufacturing, modification/improvement in materials, process and product.
Right from the beginning, we wanted to develop compliance to all applicable national and international regulatory and statutory norms, and also a major focus on improvement in energy conservation and pollution control, apart from interaction with suppliers and customers, including OEMs.
How successful has BKT been in achieving these targets?
We have been very committed to achieving whatever we have targeted, and we are proud to say as a result of our team work and commitment, on an average we design, develop and release 50-70 new tyre sizes each year. BKT is the first tyre company in India to produce the all-steel radial OTR, thus joining an elite class of all-steel OTR manufacturers in the world. BKT is the first in India to be REACH compliant for its entire range of products. A full 92 per cent of products are being exported to different countries including Europe and the US.
Compound development is very vital for the speciality products we are manufacturing for agricultural industrial and mixing operations. Hence, compound R&D is an important part of our R&D set-up.
For development of such type of special compound, we have a well-equipped R&D centre. A new R&D set-up is being planned at our new site in Bhuj which will also include a test track (proving ground) for development of all speciality products.