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Demand outstrips tyre supply

DRIVING PRODUCTIVITY The real value comes from measuring the increases in mine production and reduced downtime when using a Bridgestone product

NATHAN FOUCHE The global demand for certain product categories, such as our 63-inch Ultra tyres for opencast mining, has meant that mines are finding themselves with low tyre inventories

15th July 2022

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor

     

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The African mining market’s demand for tyre solutions provider Bridgestone Southern Africa’s product has increased substantially and is exceeding supply, owing to global tyre supply constraints, says Bridgestone Southern Africa off-the-road business segment manager Nathan Fouche.

“On the back of the supply chain interruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war has had adverse effects across the mining sector, with the biggest challenges faced in relation to to tyres being cost increases and security of supply.

“The global demand for certain product categories, such as our 63-inch Ultra tyres for opencast mining, has meant that mines are finding themselves with low tyre inventories on their sites.”

With these specialised large tyres requiring a long lead time and involving somewhat inflexible production, it is vital for mines and their tyre suppliers to form long-term relationships, especially as each mine has its unique needs, and all Bridgestone’s products are individually specified for defined applications.

Thereby, the company expects the global trend towards vendor management of tyre stocks at mining sites to gain traction in Africa, where its largest demand stems from customers operating in the Copperbelt – Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – and the coal sector.

“One size does not fit all. Each mine’s needs should be carefully and accurately scoped and scheduled into production timeously to ensure the correct stock levels,” explains Fouche.

Hence, Bridgestone’s move from being a tyre manufacturer to a holistic solutions provider.

“Close relationships with our end-users and increased transparency have helped us address some of the risks associated with supply constraints. We have increased the activities of our field engineering teams across Africa to ensure that the right specifications are used when buying tyres by understanding the site conditions, recommending changes to improve tyre longevity and conducting physical load studies,” says Fouche.

These studies involve weighing loaded vehicles to ensure that the correct tyre pressures are being used to increase productivity without decreasing tyre life.

“Our digital platforms, such as tyre-and-rim performance tracking solution TreadStat, play an increasingly important role here,” he adds.

While most large mines have the ability to track and measure tyre performance using their preferred tyre management system (TMS), TreadStat helps customers manage the life cycle cost of tyres for increased efficiency and profitability.

“It monitors each tyre across its full life cycle from the time it enters inventory, covering mounting inspections, rotation management and repairs and disposal. It allows mines to monitor, optimise and report on the condition and productivity of all their tyres and rims regardless of the organisation’s size or location,” says Fouche.

Bridgestone also offers tyre pressure monitoring solution iTRACKII, which provides real-time data, such as temperature, pressure and G-force measurement, that can be used to extend tyre life and improve the efficiency of the fleet to deliver greater mine production.

Cost per hour measures are still calculated in most TMSes, which remain a good way to track tyre life costs; however, more mature mines have the ability to track and measure their tyres and are starting to understand that their fleet’s tyres need to be assessed more holistically.

“The real value comes from measuring the increases in mine production and reduced downtime when using a Bridgestone product. For example, a superior tyre would enable the mine to increase the loads carried on each vehicle, with a direct impact on the bottom line. Value gains associated with increased productivity in the 7% to 10% range can be achieved, far outweighing the original cost of the premium tyre,” states Fouche.

Mines can now more effectively assess the impact of Bridgestone’s MasterCore range of tyres, which was introduced to selected customers in Africa in 2020, following its release in South Africa in 2019.

“MasterCore is Bridgestone’s latest mining tyre and is the result of intensive research and development (R&D) over many years aimed at increasing tyre performance in harsh mining conditions,” says Fouche.

The MasterCore product allows for the customisation of tyres to increase the tyre’s load capacity by 15% without increasing the pressure (or, conversely, reducing the pressure to increase traction), increase speed by 10% and extend tyre life by 5% through increased durability, owing to decreased crack propensity and greater cut resistance.

“For mines, safety, sustainability and value are key to success when it comes to tyres. Safety and sustainability are built into how Bridgestone operates, and our massive R&D programme is geared to continuously improve our products,” Fouche emphasises.

While moving product, especially heavy product, into Africa is challenging, Bridgestone has a dedicated supply chain management team at its head office in Midrand, Gauteng. The company has also worked with its logistics supplier, which has a deep understanding of the environment, for more than 20 years, highlights Fouche.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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