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Published: November 2017      

More new tyres for the port sector

Smaller tyre companies are seeking to expand their niche presence in the port handling tyre sector.

At TOC Europe in June, Finlandbased Nokian Heavy Tyres introduced its second generation of HTS terminal tyres, for laden reach stacker and heavy FLT applications. These new G2 tyres have been designed to be even more rugged, efficient and safe, “and tests confirm that we have succeeded in all these areas”, stated the company.

Nokian introduced its first HTS terminal tyres in the early 2000s. The G2 tyres represent a completely new generation of terminal tyres. They are available either as L-4S slicks or with E-4 treads.

“The choice of slicks or treads depends entirely on customer preference,” said Martti Keinonen, project manager, Nokian Heavy Tyres. “The L-4S slicks have more contact surface, which helps extend their life, while the E-4 treads remain cooler in hot climates and over long transfer journeys, which also extends their life.”

Whichever option customers choose, “they will be getting one of the longest lasting tyres on the market today”, the company said. Nokian HTS G2 tyres have a multi-layer, cross-ply structure that provides stability and a high load-bearing capacity. Increased stability also means enhanced safety, as it prevents reach stackers from ‘kneeling’, even when handling the heaviest loads.

Both the L-4S and E-4 models have a long-lasting rubber compound, optimised for harbour applications. The rubber compound resists wear on highfriction asphalt surfaces, while the stiff cross-ply structure ensures that the tyres are long-lasting and reliable, which lowers costs over their lifespan. “Tests have shown the new generation of tyres to be as much as twice as long-lasting as competing tyres, depending on conditions,” the company added.

There are four tyres in the G2 range.

Deliveries began at the start of autumn in the 18.00-25 size for both L-4S slicks and E-4 treaded tyres. The bigger 18.00-33 size will be available in L-4S and E4 tread in 2018. A feature of the new E4 range is a tread depth indicator that shows the condition of the tyre at a glance. Supported blocks with chamfered edges improve turning with the E4 tyres.

Netherlands-based Magna Tyres recently upgraded its MB01 port tyre with the MB01+, which features an extra-deep tread (70mm). A new and improved casing design reduces heat build-up inside the tyres, the company says. The tyre is produced in 16.00-25, 18.00-25, 18.00-33 and 21.00-25 sizes.

MB01 tyres are in widespread use. The company reports, for example, that they have been running successfully in 18.00-25 size on an eight-wheel RTG in the Port of Djibouti. “They performed beyond customer expectations with no premature failures,” it stated.

Piraeus Container Terminal recently placed a repeat purchase for 30 Magna M-Straddle tyres. “The customer is very satisfied with the overall performance and the cost price per hour,” reported Magna. These radial 16.00R-25 tyres feature heavy-duty sidewalls, in combination with a deep and ribbed tread pattern, designed to provide excellent resistance to damage and impacts. They are of all-steel radial construction, with improved protector plies to optimise load performance and operator comfort. Technical improvements made to the casing further reduce heat build-up inside the tyre.

In its home market, Magna Tyres started supplying M-Straddle tyres to Rotterdam Shortsea Terminal (RST) on a test basis in November 2015. The company says that, as of mid-2017, the first tyres had clocked up 5,000 hours, and covered 23,000 km, and still had 64% of the original tread depth. If the tyres get to 10,000 hours and still retain 40% of the original tread depth, they could be among RST’s best-performing SC tyres to date.

Currently, the tyres are fitted on four of RST’s straddle carriers. Magna hopes to start tests with a big operator in Antwerp, taking advantage of the “5% free choice” that SC operators have in their contracts with the big tyre suppliers – meaning the operator can go to the open market for up to 5% of the tyres needed for the duration of the main contract.

This last point is reiterated by Roberto Saccon, managing director of Italy-based Ecomega SpA. SC operators generally operate large fleets, and, as the machines travel many kilometres, tyres are a key issue. With eight tyres per machine, this is big business, and thus of considerable interest to big tyre makers, such as Bridgestone, Michelin, Yokohama and Goodyear.

Terminal operators award contracts on the basis of running cost per hour and a minimum hours warranty, and generally the contracts go to one supplier, in order to get the best price. It is difficult for a smaller tyre supplier to get into the market, not least because it has to give a generous warranty without any foreknowledge of how the operator runs the machines, although, as a prospective bidder, it would have access to the mileage figures and would be allowed a site visit to check the surface quality.

However, most SC tyre contracts have a 5% free choice clause. Clearly, this is an opportunity for companies such as Ecomega, Magna, Nokian and BKT. It is quite common for operators to exercise this choice on new machines that are delivered during the term of the main tyre contract.

“It may take five or six years to build up a good relationship with the customer after initial supply, but once we have them, we rarely lose them,” said Roberto Saccon.

Ecomega makes a wide range of tyres for the ports market, from 12.00-20 to 21.00-25, including now 18.00R-25 radials for reach stackers. Its latest tyre is the M4PU 16.00R-25 for straddle carriers, which has a redesigned casing structure. It features a double deep-centre lug tread pattern for maximum thermal dispersion, a reinforced bead for more stability, and a reinforced sidewall to avoid damage.

Up to 90% of the company’s port tyres are made in China, but concerns over anti-dumping in the US, a key Ecomega market for OEM and after-market sales, has led the company to start up in Korea as well.

Continental’s focus

Over the last 12 months, Continental CST has sharpened its focus on the port market, with a dedicated range of tyres for port machinery.

Speaking to WorldCargo News earlier in the year at TOC Europe, Julian Alexander, product line manager, Material Handling, Continental CST, explained that tyre design is about finding the best balance of compounds, casings and tread patterns for each machine, but understanding how ports use each vehicle is a considerable challenge.

This is perhaps best illustrated by terminal tractors. In an RTG terminal, a 4x2 tractor spends most of its life going around in a small circle from the quay crane to the yard. However, in a logistics application, the duty cycle is considerably different. The tractors typically drive a lot further, sometimes on public roads. In fact, around 25% of the tractors sold in the USA are DOT certified for on-road use.

In a 2013 article, WorldCargo News cited numbers from USbased tractor manufacturer TICO, showing that tractors in distribution centres could expect to operate for 6,000 hours a year, compared to 3,000 hours for a typical port machine. The distribution and logistics sector makes up around 75% of the US terminal tractor market.

As far as is known, most terminal tractors produced in the US leave the factory with truck tyres, unless the customer has specified different tyres. This is something that Continental is trying to change. For terminal tractors, it offers the TractorMaster, with a larger tread depth of between 24mm and 31mm, based on the proven tread design of the ContiRV20. TractorMaster features a closed-shoulder, and the hard, wear-resistant compound is designed to provide even wear, low abrasion, and a high resistance to damage. A reinforced bead construction guarantees a long life expectancy, with less downtime, even under heavy use.

Three options

Alexander said that TractorMaster is ideal for an application where there is frequent acceleration and braking under large loads, and load shocks when containers are loaded onto the tractor.

As well as high load capacity, tractor tyres at a port also need “durability and punctureresistance to damage caused by scattered metal or wooden components, such as twist locks”, he added. “The TractorMaster features S-shaped cross ribs that excel in all weathers, producing good traction, while the closedshoulder design ensures a quiet ride. What is more, the low-abrasion tread compound delivers outstanding mileage.”

In a large logistics facility, where travel distances are greater and include on-road travel, a truck-type tyre may be the better choice. For such an application, Continental offers its TerminalTransport tyre, an “all-round radial tyre, performing with its closed-shoulder design and well-proven tread layout on all axle positions of a terminal tractor”, stated Continental. “In the style of a classical truck tyre, the TerminalTransport tyre is specifically designed for high mileage and low rolling resistance. Due to its enhanced load index, it is able to handle the high loads in terminal transports safely – therefore, it is the tyre of choice for an environment with newer and even surfaces. It provides low energy consumption, excellent wet grip and traction, ride comfort and even wear, at reasonable cost.”

A third option is the ContiRV20. This is a radial tyre with closed-shoulder design for equipment including tractors and trailers that operate in areas with uneven surfaces and a high risk of objects on the driving surface.

Checking pressure

Terminal/ro-ro tractor manufacturer MOL Cy NV, based in Belgium, says it is the first OEM in the container ports sector to offer Continental CST’s ContiPressureCheck system as a standard option.

Marc Vandenberghe, MOL’s sales manager, terminal tractors business unit, told WorldCargo News that the sensor is permanently bonded to the inside of the tractor tyres, and is designed to last for the lifetime of the tyre. This is much better than a valvemounted sensor as it is not exposed to damage or accidental removal, and it retains its accuracy, irrespective of the temperature and the pressure effects as the hot air expands.

The way MOL has set it up, temperature and pressure abnormalities are flagged up in the driver’s cabin. Vandenberghe added that MOL is working on a new controller that will automatically adjust the torque and travel speed if the driver ignores the signals. This will be done through the tractor’s J1939 CAN-bus link.

The pressure check is an important value-added service, added Vandenberghe, as more of MOL’s terminal operator customers are turning away from road truck tyres, as they increasingly recognise that they are not fit for purpose. As they fit bespoke terminal tractor tyres, however, they are taking on a much bigger upfront cost, and want to protect their assets to extend their life, and thus achieve the lowest possible cost per running hour.

In another development, starting from September this year, Continental introduced a “yard tractor reader station” that automatically checks the pressure of every tyre within a 25m radius from its location in the maintenance area.

Autonomous driving

Another interesting application is AGV tyres. Alexander noted that, though they operate at moderate speeds and turn gradually, “they are very big and heavy”, particularly battery-powered machines with lead acid battery packs. In addition, they do not avoid foreign objects on the ground that can damage tyres in the way manned machines might. “Therefore, the tyre needs to provide low rolling resistance, a long service life, stability, longer tread life, and cracking and damage resistance,” said Alexander. “This is why we recommend the CraneMaster for this kind of application.”

The CraneMaster is designed to deliver the best operating performance under very heavy loads, including turning at zero speed. It is also recommended for RTGs that often turn on the spot to change rows, and for mobile harbour cranes....

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This complete item is approximately 2000 words in length, and appeared in the November 2017 issue of WorldCargo News, on page 41.

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