New Tech For New Opportunity - Tire Review Magazine

New Tech For New Opportunity

KendaUSA_TechCenterAs Kenda USA ramps up the development of new tires for the North American market, the tiremaker’s Kenda North American Technical Center (KATC) in Green, Ohio, has changed dramatically.

Since its ribbon-cutting ceremony in November 2015, the 50,000-square-foot facility has transformed into a multiple laboratory location with new testing equipment, new technologies and four new engineers – bringing the tech center’s employee count to 25. On June 20, Kenda invited distributors, tire dealers and media to tour the facility and get a first-hand look at the updates.

Tracking the tiremaker to develop its OE business and make North America its No. 2 market – a plan outlined at the ribbon-cutting ceremony – KATC houses a plethora of advanced tire-modeling and simulation technologies to develop its tires.

“All of the tools and investments which Kenda is developing will assist us to launch products faster for the Americas that will meet the aggressive business goals set by the corporation,” said Tom Williams, Kenda’s vice president of engineering. “Our proprietary design tools will accelerate our ability to offer cost-effective products to the aftermarket and original equipment markets.”

The KATC engineering team has been busy using Kenda’s proprietary in-house tire engineering tools such as KEPLER, KASS and KPAT, which allow engineers to develop, design and test a tire on the computer before creating the physical tire. Kenda also hopes to one day be able to test a tire’s performance on the road using a virtual tire testing machine that operates like a video game. With the new tech center technology, Kenda has developed the new Klever H/T2 light truck tire and the Klever S/T.

Additionally, a compound lab allows engineers to test compounds used in tires and a tire-carving station enables Kenda to have tire prototypes carved from blanks for research and testing opportunities.

With the new innovations at the tech center, the tiremaker also plans to start moving its OE business beyond spare tires, Kenda told Tire Review.

The influx of new testing equipment completes Phase 2 of developing the tech center, but there is more to come as Kenda plans Phase 3. So far the tiremaker has spent nearly $2 million in upgrades, including a roughly $1.3 million investment on KATC’s most advanced piece of equipment, the High Speed Uniformity (HSU) machine.

The HSU machine runs a suite of tests, including high- and low-speed uniformity (how round the tire is), rolling resistance (how much energy the tire absorbs when it spins) and flat spotting (where a flat spot would develop). During tire testing, the machine can roll a tire at upwards of 150 mph under a 5,000-pound load. Kenda engineers said a second HSU machine will eventually be added.

Williams told Tire Review as the tech center shifts toward Phase 3, an additional $1.5 million worth of improvements will be made, including the addition of more equipment and additional laboratories to join the single laboratory upstairs.

“There’s a reason we have all that empty space,” he says. “Basically I have 50,000 square feet and I’m going to use every inch of it.”

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