Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence Winners – announced

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The winners of this year’s Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence have been announced at a ceremony during Tire Technology Expo 2019 at the Deutsche Messe, Hannover, Germany.

The prestigious, learned panel comprises 31 judges who include Kevin Kefauver, Technical director at the National Tire Research Center; Maik Brinkmeier, Principal development engineer of Mechanics & Simulation at Continental; Anke Blume, Chair of Elastomer Technology and Engineering at the University of Twente; and Gregory Smith, Senior engineer at Goodyear. (The full list can be found below).

Tire Manufacturing Innovation of the Year – HF Group – TBM One

Environmental Achievement of the Year – Bridgestone – HSR

Tire Technology of the Year – SRI – Sensing Core

Tire Industry Supplier of the Year – Test World (Millbrook)

Tire Manufacturer of the Year – Michelin

Young Scientist Prize – Chidambaram Subramanian

Lifetime Achievement Award – Rudi Hein

The 2019 Tire Manufacturing Innovation of the Year award went to HF Group for the TBM One, the company’s multiple-types tire building machine (TBM). It is the only TBM in the market that provides the flexibility to produce tires with inflated or flat turn-up, as well as standard tire designs such as SOT/TOS, wide BP turn-up and ply up/down constructions. In addition, changing between the carcass drums takes only 20 minutes, which is comparable to a normal code change.

“HF Group has systematically improved the quality and flexibility of their TBMs,” says judge Romain Hansen, director of global tire performance science, Goodyear. “The newest generation responds very well to a trend in the tire industry of lower batch sizes and increasing numbers of stock-keeping units. It helps to manage the increasing complexity in the industry.”

The recipient of the Environmental Achievement of the Year award was Bridgestone for its newly developed HSR (High-Strength Rubber) polymer, the world’s first polymer to bond rubber and resins at a molecular level. It has a crack resistance five times higher than natural rubber, as well as higher tensile strength and abrasion resistance. It could potentially lead to a 50% reduction in the amount of material used in a tire (less tread depth, less polymer needed in production) and could reduce rolling resistance without affecting durability. Applications include future EV tire development and a number of potential uses outside of the tire industry.

“This high-strength rubber is the result of decades of in-depth R&D at the molecular level,” says judge Patrick De Keyzer, managing partner at DeKeP. “This new polymer will drastically reduce the consumption of raw materials and energy.” Toshio Nishi, emeritus professor at University of Tokyo and Tokyo Institute of Technology, adds, “This is a new approach to high-strength rubber, and will be extremely useful in the future.”

The Tire Technology of the Year was awarded to SRI for its Sensing Core development. This cutting-edge technology can detect road conditions, tire load and other information without the use of direct sensors. Unlike camera or radar sensors, Sensing Core can calculate and detect friction, which is useful when confronted with hazards such as black ice and hydroplaning risk. A number of vehicle OEMs are showing interest in widespread application of the technology, and it could be integral to future autonomous vehicle functionality.

Judge Gert Heinrich, senior professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering/Institute of Textile Machinery and Textile High Performance Materials Technology, Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research, says, “Sensing Core is a technology that not only contributes to greater safety for drivers and passengers, but will also play a role in the rapid advancement of autonomous vehicle technology in the near future.”

The Tire Industry Supplier of the Year award went to Test World for its all-year-round tire and vehicle winter testing facility. Opening in 2012, it was the world’s first indoor winter tire test facility offering snow and ice traction and braking, with snow handling added in 2015. Following investment by Millbrook to meet industry demand, the facility was extended in 2018 and now offers indoor wet and dry braking and longitudinal aquaplaning. Test World is the first in the industry to offer natural snow, ice, and wet and dry asphalt in one location, 365 days a year. “Test World is the first to offer the possibility of testing in all adherence conditions, from ice to dry, at the same location, 365 days a year,” says judge Jean-Claude Fauré, R&D executive fellow, passenger car and light truck tire at Michelin. “This multi-service offer is welcome because the issues of efficiency and quality are enormous.”

This year’s Tire Manufacturer of the Year was awarded to Michelin for, among many things, the company’s environmental initiatives over the past 12 months. Michelin is one of the few tire OEMs to commit to 2048 sustainability targets, and its many product innovations include RF-free resin, for which the company spent nine years and 35 patents researching and developing replacement chemicals. “Michelin has been driving the market with innovations and sustainability concepts for years,” says judge Klaus Baltruschat, tire expert for TÜV Süd. “Their environmental initiatives such as micronized rubber powder and clever tread pattern design that still delivers good performance even when close to being worn out, are just a few examples that can be cited here.”

This year’s Young Scientist Prize was awarded to Chidambaram Subramanian, a graduate research assistant at the Centre for Tire Research, Virginia Tech, USA, for his research paper on road surface classification using intelligent tires.

Mark Fenner, conference director for Tire Technology Expo, said, “Chidambaram’s work on intelligent tires, vehicle dynamics and race vehicle simulations could potentially increase the safety of autonomous vehicles and promote the future growth of AV technology.”

The final award of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement Award, which this year was presented to Rudi Hein. This prestigious honour was awarded in recognition of his incredible 32-year career in special project teams at BMW, in particular his work on runflat tire systems, and the decade spent with Bridgestone as executive advisor standards and regulations. Recently retired, he has worked on wheel and tire concepts and design for his whole career, and was made an honorary chairman of the German Association of the Automotive Industry in 2014.

“Rudi has been a great ambassador for the tire industry over the years,” says Mark Fenner, conference director for Tire Technology Expo. “From his time at BMW to the present, he has been instrumental in bringing all the various elements of the industry together.”

The Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence are recognized as the industry’s top accolades, and aim to celebrate the very best new technologies and innovations from all over the world. The awards are judged by a fully independent, international panel of journalists and industry experts, and take place during Tire Technology Expo, Europe’s most important tire design manufacturing and technology exhibition and conference.

The awards are coordinated by Tire Technology International magazine, which is published by UKi Media & Events, the organiser of Tire Technology Expo. You can find more information about Tire Technology International here. For further information on the awards, or images of the ceremony, please contact: Wesley Doyle, communications manager, UKi Media & Events, on +44 7912 253721 or via wesley.doyle@ukimediaevents.com.

Judging Panel

Ken Albers
Director, Automotive OEM Sales, Kenda Tires

Eric Amis
Dean, College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, University of Akron

Klaus Baltruschat
Tire expert, TÜV SÜD

Anke Blume
Chair of Elastomer Technology and Engineering, University of Twente

Maik Brinkmeier
Principal development engineer, Mechanics & Simulation, Continental

Stuart Cook
Director of Research, TARRC

Patrick De Keyzer
Managing partner, DeKep

Jean-Claude Fauré
R&D Executive Fellow, Passenger Car and Light Truck Tire, Michelin

Stefan Fischer
Managing director, Product Technology, Giti Tire Europe

Romain Hansen
Global Tire Performance Science, Goodyear

Rudi Hein
Executive Adviser (retired), Bridgestone EMEA

Gert Heinrich
Senior professor, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering/Institute of Textile Machinery and Textile High Performance Materials Technology, Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research, Dresden

Kuninobu Kadota
Fellow, Tire research division, Bridgestone

Kevin Kefauver
Technical director, National Tire Research Center

Daniele Lorenzetti
Chief technology officer, Apollo Tyres

Federico Mancosu
Consultant, ex-Pirelli

Abilash Nair
Senior materials development engineer, Dunlop Aircraft Tyres

Kozaburo Nakaseko
Executive R&D advisor, Sumitomo Rubber Industries

Toshio Nishi
Emeritus Professor, University of Tokyo and Tokyo Institute of Technology

Jörg Nohl
VP, maintenance and quality management, Tire Division, Continental

Bo Persson
Research scientist, FZ Jülich

Lorenzo Pulici
Engineering Manager, Pirelli

Jan Prins
Technical Specialist Tyre Modelling & CAE, Jaguar Land Rover

Matt Ross
Editor, Tire Technology International magazine

Ulf Sandberg
Research leader, VTI

David Shaw
Chief executive, Tire Industry Research

Gregory Smith
Senior engineer, Goodyear

Saied Taheri
Director, CenTiRe, Virginia Tech

Joe Walter
Adjunct professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of Akron

Shunichi Yamazaki
President, Intelligent Vehicle Research Institute

Chuck Yurkovich
Senior VP, Global Research & Development, Cooper Tire

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the ground-breaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of the automotive and tire industries.

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