The introduction of self-driving and electric vehicles is speeding up for both the construction and agricultural sectors, through a revolution which the Off-Highway tire industry must keep up with.
BKT is ready to take up the challenge.
The leading manufacturers of earthmoving machinery, as well as those of agricultural vehicles, are clearly moving towards a process of irreversible change called Sustainability, the only key to the future which may see the survival of the planet and its inhabitants. At a rhythm dictated by environmental change, we are seeing the introduction of a new generation of vehicles: self-driving, electric, fueled by alternative energy sources, solar or hydrogen.
In all of this, the tire industry is adapting in terms of research, as the tire is one of the essential components for a vehicle’s performance, in global terms of environmental and economic sustainability.
BKT, which manufactures Off-Highway tires for agricultural, industrial, earthmoving, mining, ATV and gardening vehicles is now addressing the change with a range of solutions, thanks to its almost 30-year experience and a clear openness to dialogue with its users.
In the particular case of electric vehicles, the type of energy and load distribution has led to the creation of specific tires.
Owing to the high torque, as well as the strengthening of the bead between the rim and the tire, the design of the flaps of agricultural tires must, for example, be adapted and could require a reduction in the depth of the tread and an increase in the robustness of the flaps. Again as regards electric vehicles, in order to be able to carry heavier loads, also compounds are being researched, since they must be able to work at lower temperatures. In this regard, BKT is working to develop better performing compounds which are essential for the best possible performance of the so-called “tire of the future”, i.e. nanomaterials or nanocompounds which offer advanced functions such as thermal or mechanical stability – the BKT Research & Development Center is also conducting nanotechnology studies and experiments on natural fibers such as nanoclay and nanocellulose. Again talking of materials, another element which the Indian company is testing out is graphene, which provides higher resistance to wear and tear and puncturing, higher resistance to traction, as well as better resistance to rolling and exceptional duration.
Graphene provides extraordinary strength and excellent flexibility. Just consider that this material is 200 times more resistant and 6 times more flexible than steel.
Considered the thinnest and most resistant material in the world, it has an extraordinarily high level of conductivity for both heat and electricity, all characteristics which make it an ideal material for heavy-duty applications, such as work in the mining sector.
Finally, since the dialogue between tires and machines will be a crucial element, an example of adaptation on the new generations of work vehicles are sensors mounted on the tire, which can inform the vehicle of the consumption of the tread for example, which is important for mining machinery that is subject to very heavy workloads from the viewpoint of consumption, or the compactness of the earth in agriculture, in order to vary the inflation pressure and so limit possible wear and tear.
BKT is present in this field with SPOTECH, a device that can provide information on the exact position of the equipment via satellite tracking. This system includes an accelerometer which records the data and is positioned on the equipment to record all the lateral, longitudinal and vertical movements, as well as the related forces together with speed, duration of the cycle and other parameters. SPOTECH analyses the use of tires in detail, taking account of the effects and consequences on the equipment on which they are fitted. Automation, digitalization of data, alternative energies, innovative materials, in short everything helps create a possible future which respects the planet and people above all. BKT accepts the challenge and does so with all the necessary prerequisites and with a very clear vision, as only major companies can do.