Smithers Rapra, a leader in rubber, plastics, and composites testing, has opened its recent expansion at the company’s Tire and Wheel Test Center in Ravenna, Ohio.
An open house event for tire industry professionals and partners was held at the facility to provide a first look at the company’s MTS Flat-Trac CT Plus Tire Test System.
After manufacturers expressed a need for testing larger tire sizes, six of the top global tire manufacturers, including Bridgestone Americas, Continental Tire, Cooper Tire & Rubber, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Hankook Tire, and Michelin North America, partnered with Smithers to bring the new capability to the Ravenna testing lab.
The expansion also created additional space for offices, conference rooms for client and project meetings, storage and space for additional testing capabilities that are currently in development and could be rolled out in the coming months, Smithers says.
“This expansion at the Ravenna laboratory allows us to offer enhanced capabilities, increased capacity, and even more comprehensive service for our clients,” said Dr. Jim Popio, the company’s vice president of North American operations. “We thank the partner companies who have collaborated with us to address this need to accommodate larger tires for testing as well as the need for more demanding testing conditions. Thanks to their support, Smithers is strengthening our service portfolio in an automotive market that increasingly favors larger vehicles.”
Development for this type of machine flowed down from the data requirements of the vehicle manufacturers, Smithers said. With the switch to CUVs, SUVs and trucks, larger tire and wheel diameters require higher wheel torque and load limits to provide helpful force and moment measurement data for vehicle dynamics engineers. Based off demand for tire modeling and tiremakers’ needs requirements for a testing machine, Smithers is housing the Flat Trac machine.
The CT+ tire testing allows Smithers to conduct assessments on most passenger car and light truck tires on the market today by simulating real-world driving conditions and collecting tire performance data. The machine is engineered to deliver accurate and repeatable measurements of tire force and moment properties under steady-state and dynamic conditions in order to provide higher fidelity tire models, which assist in meeting validation and timing requirements.
The machine adds to Smithers’ wide range of tire testing services, which cover everything from material science to tire and wheel testing to winter traction testing at its winter proving ground. The company, which has lab locations in North America, Europe and China, offers tire companies local expertise and capabilities to support their global product teams.