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Successful Debut For IQPC Intelligent Tire Technology Conference

(Clacton, U.K./Tyres & Accessories) At the end of last year the International Quality & Productivity Center (IQPC) organised its first conference dedicated to tyre related topics.

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As the name of the event suggests, it mainly dealt with intelligent tyre technologies – meaning run-flat tyres and tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS).

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Participants were invited to take part in a day-long workshop immediately before the two-day conference with the first day completely focusing on new developments. The second conference day featured information about a wide range of different topics like for example tyre/road noise, chassis control and the design of alloy wheels.

“We have a lot of experience in organising conferences on automotive related topics but regarding tyres this is our first one. In advance of this event we did some market research where we noticed that run-flats and tyre pressure monitoring systems are right now one of the most discussed new technologies in the tyre business,” IQPC project manager Klaudia Malowitz told Tyres & Accessories, explaining the motivation behind the event. “Because of positive feedback this will definitely not be our last tyre conference,“ she added.

Taking the number of participants as an indicator for the success of the conference, one can be sure that last year’s edition, which featured T&A and its German sister magazine Neue ReifenZeitung as media partners, won’t be a one hit wonder.

On the first day of the conference more than 120 participants arrived to hear about the latest developments with the TPMS and run-flat technology, while visitor numbers decreased slightly on the second day. This shows that IQPC more or less perfectly spotted what is currently a hot topic in the business.

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 “The most important tyre and car manufacturers have joined us,” Jukka Hakanen, development manager of RoadSnoop at Nokian Tyres and chairman of the conference. Indeed the guest list was virtually a who’s who of the tyre and automotive businesses.

Right from the start the importance of run-flats for the tyre business could be seen from the market research results presented by Jesse Roeck, director tyre development at Goodyear’s Technical Center in Luxembourg. Although he mentioned that today consumers are not fully aware of the run-flat technology and its advantages, 82% of drivers would like to have those tyres fitted to their next car after someone had explained the benefits. “They would even accept paying 20% more for run-flats. Another 84% would even prefer run-flats to ESP,“ said Roeck, revealing some figures form the tyre manufacturer’s market study.

According to Goodyear, roundabout 75% of drivers said that the distance they are able go on with a flat tyre is of more important than the maximum speed achievable under such circumstances.

This result is especially interesting with regard to a planned ISO standard (International Standardisation Organisation) suggesting 80 kilometres at 80 km/h as a standardised limit for run-flats operating a 0 bar.

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“However, some car manufacturers would prefer 150 kilometres at 80 km/h and like to see some kind of indicator telling the driver how far he has already gone on a flat tyre,” said Roeck. Such a system was presented in Frankfurt by Philippe Fournet-Fayat from Siemens VDO Automotive.

Together with Goodyear this company has developed what is called an “Intelligent Tire System“ (ITS) or “Tire IQ”. Basing on a small sensor mounted on a ring within the tyre, the chip stores size DOT number and the distance a tyre has travelled at zero pressure in addition to the standard air pressure and temperature functions.

Fournet-Fayat told the audience about quite a number of tests successfully performed with Tire IQ. In total 500 tyres are said to have run more than three million kilometres at speeds of up to 320 km/h and temperatures as low as -40°C. All those tests revealed, according to Fournet-Fayat, that integrating such a sensor within the tyre is a problem that can be solved.

 “For us it is therefore no question that tyre pressure monitoring systems in the future will develop more and more towards intelligent tyre information systems. ‘Tire IQ’ clearly demonstrates that concepts like this can be realised opening the door for the measurement of some additional tyre data and becoming an integral part of electronic chassis control systems,” he said.

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Some more interesting news came up when Michelin and Goodyear jointly presented what has resulted from their joint venture – Global Run-Flat System Research, Development & Technology B.V. “One of its goals is the identification of synergies between such systems like PAX and EMT, which is now called RunOnFlat,“ explained Pedro Costa, vice president continued mobility technologies at Michelin.

William Hopkins, vice president global product marketing and technology planning for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. revealed that both manufacturers have developed a new run-flat system: a PAX system tyre with self supporting sidewalls.

As Costa and Hopkins revealed, both solutions have their advantages: the PAX system when it comes to tyres with high aspect ratio and cars with high loads, whereas RunOnFlat is preferred for low aspect ratio tyres. Therefore a combination of both technologies would be able to offer the best of both worlds.

“The project has reached an advanced status although we have not concluded all tests. Nevertheless we have already presented the concept to some car manufacturers but we are definitely not at a point where we could talk about OE deliveries,” said Hopkins who didn’t want to go into too much detail about the jointly developed Michelin/Goodyear system.

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This shows that IQPC was right in choosing run-flats and tyre pressure monitoring systems as a focus for its first tyre conference because there is still lot of movement in the segment. And its not only that these technologies don’t seem to have fully arrived in the market or in the consumers’ awareness. Even in terms of product development there is still a constant flow of improvements, justifying a dedicated meeting of tyre experts like the one in Frankfurt.

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