Sri Lankan specialty tire manufacturer GRI has always taken pride in its focus on sustainability and innovation, but what does it mean for a specialist tire manufacturer to innovate? How can a company embed innovation into its DNA? According to the company, it is a process that goes well beyond simply producing tires, it touches on every area of its operations.
“The future outlook for the specialty tire market is a robust one. New technologies, business agility and innovations can yield vast opportunities for growth for players in the industry. While technology and innovation go hand in hand, it is important to remember that this is only one driver of innovation. Innovation is a holistic process that encompasses all parts of a business’s operations,” commented Dr Mahesha Ranasoma, CEO at GRI.
The company explains that its primary mission was to produce tires that would challenge the best tire producers in the world. To achieve this, it began by installing cutting-edge technology and equipment when its factories were established, that was best in class and the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, while also investing heavily in R&D capabilities.
These initial steps to incorporate innovation in its production and development yielded results. The company says it has focused on fostering innovation in both its designs and compounds, developing new tread patterns and advanced compounds that give a higher performance at the same costs. For example, it highlights the recent development of solid tires with a wider footprint than existing products, but with the same weight and structure. GRI also worked collaboratively with a Japanese customer to produce a winter tire with a special compound and tread that functions in sub-zero temperatures.
Innovation in sustainability is another driver at GRI. The company claims it is actively adapting and aligning its practices and policies in accordance with UN Sustainable Development Goals and incorporating eco-friendly innovations across the board. As an example, when a development project is initiated, it looks at whether the carbon footprint can be reduced, which in turn leads to a reduction in wastage and better materials recyclability. There is also a focus on reducing the customer’s carbon footprint as well.
While natural rubber is a renewable commodity, in an industry where demand is disproportionately large, sustainability in sourcing is of utmost importance. To this end, GRI sources its natural rubber from Sri Lankan farmers and plantations around the island nation, reinforcing the local value chain.
“Our focus is to develop products that function above anticipated performance and are always made at the upper limits of performance and quality tolerance. This guarantees the utility value to the end user beyond what they expect. It leads to our virtuous cycle of continuously increasing the customer’s value creation boundaries. Innovation is an everyday process of continuous improvement. We at GRI are proud to say that innovation is truly in our DNA,” concluded Ranasoma.