Sustainable innovation, and next-generation information and communication technologies were championed at this year’s Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence.
The awards are decided by the votes of a 27-strong panel of experts from the tire industry and academia, with the winners announced last night (Wednesday, February 15) during Tire Technology Expo, at a Gala Dinner at the Hannover Congress Centrum.
This year’s winners are testament to how the latest consumer electronics and cutting-edge information communication technology are being successfully adopted into tire design and manufacturing, yielding great results.
Graham Heeps, editor, Tire Technology International & chairman of the judging panel said: “Cutting-edge sustainability and information technology is more prominent than ever among this year’s winners, showing that the tire industry is at the forefront of high-tech research, development and manufacturing. The judging panel was impressed by the strength in depth among this year’s finalists. Picking the winners gets harder every year!”
Bridgestone was awarded Tire Manufacturing Innovation of the Year with judges overwhelmingly voting for the brand’s Examation tire assembly system. Examation combines revolutionary artificial intelligence with information and communication technologies, for improved quality and enhanced factory productivity.
Versalis/Genomatica won the Environmental Achievement of the Year award for their long-term project to create renewable butadiene. The companies embarked on the joint venture in a bid to address concerns around potential butadiene shortages and price increases. In a demonstration run in 2016, several kilograms of renewable butadiene were prepared starting from commercial sugars, with polymerization tests showing no differences between the polybutadiene prepared from fossil or renewable feedstock.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI, producers of Falken tires) won the Tire Technology of the Year category for a record third time with its Advanced 4D Nano Design, which makes is possible to perform highly realistic simulations of the complex internal structures and behaviours of rubber materials at the nanoscale. The technology is being used to develop next-generation tire materials, including a new tread rubber that doubled the wear performance of SRI’s standard tread rubber from 2011.
The Tire Industry Supplier of the Year award was presented to Harm Voortman, president and CEO, VMI Group. Judges recognized the launch of VMI’s Milexx truck-tire building machine, along with further debuts including its Retrax automated pre-cure tread applicator, Pixxel vision system, and its new manufacturing facility in Leszno, Poland, operational from Q2 2017.
In the hotly contested Tire Manufacturer of the Year category it was Continental who scooped the prize, beating off stiff competition from Hankook, Michelin and Yokohama.
A raft of major R&D and production investments were unveiled by Continental in 2016, with German projects including a new high-performance technical center and a dedicated dandelion-rubber research center. In September, the first truck test tires containing dandelion rubber were revealed, with production expected to follow in 5-10 years.
Two specialist awards were also presented. TU Dresden PhD candidate, Pavel Sarkisov took home the Young Scientist Prize after delivering an impressive conference paper entitled “Optical measurement of tire deformation focused on transient handling properties”. Meanwhile tire materials expert, Gert Heinrich, director of the Institute of Polymer Materials at the Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research in Dresden, and Continental’s former head of materials research, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
For more on all the winners, head to www.tiretechnology-expo.com.