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09/07/2018
Multi-purpose tires the perfect solution to reduce tcos

Massimo Condolo

Fuel ranks second in costs after labour. Tires are one of the main causes of fuel consumption (about a third of the total), and yet, long distance tires designed to guarantee low rolling resistance, do not always provide the perfect solution. Their task is very specific, while vehicles travelling over long stretches interspersed with straight, flat or steep and twisty roads, typical in many sections of central and southern Italy, have a wide variety of different needs, which can be tackled only with multi-purpose tires.

 

A growing segment

Since the 2008 crisis, multi-purpose products recorded a significant technological leap as well as a greater market demand. The latest news in this sector is Michelin’s X Multi Energy, available as Z, "all position" version for front axles as well as third or fourth steering axles, and D for drive axles. If the X Multi was dedicated to those who focus mainly on mileage, The X Multi Energy promises to be TCO’s sworn enemy. TCO, Total cost of ownership, is an evaluation concept that has been gaining ground in transport companies; not just direct costs are taken into account, price and fuel consumption, but assesses the cost of the total life of a tire. Hence, robustness, durability, re-grooving and retreading potential show their influence. At Michelin, engineers worked, above all, on the compound, which contains silica and synthetic chemical additives, combining durability, able to guarantee more than adequate grip even with a worn out tread, and low rolling resistance, only apparently incompatible. Infinicoil is a 400 metre long continuous steel wire, placed just under the tread and wrapped around the tire to provide greater tread stability which results in enhanced fuel savings, and increased tire life, ensuring a correct cycle of use as it can be re-grooved twice and retreaded once. Regenion, on the other hand, is the name of a technology (the result of intricate 3D metal printed moulds) that produces regenerating tread blocks which evolve as the tire wears. This maintains the void ratio in the tread pattern, and consequently the water clearing capability and grip throughout the tire’s life. Powercoil cables, thanks to improvements in the quality of the steel, guarantee strength and lightness contributing to making the casing stiffer, reducing heat during deformations and weights which translates into lower fuel consumption.

 

Long life, low costs

The new range guarantees, given the same use, an identical operating life to the previous one. "Do not replace me too soon" (that is, at 5/5,5 mm of residual tread) seems to be the appeal made by a Multi Energy tire, which can be used up to a 3 mm tread depth. The compact tread design contributes to the rigidity of the tire. Drive tires score a C on the European labelling system for rolling resistance, B for grip on wet roads, while the all-position version received a B for both; the noise level is 72 dB (A) for both D and Z versions, well within the strict Dutch Piek limits for night time deliveries. Casings are equipped with RFID sensors to follow their entire operating life and are retread-ready. Both drive and steering models are marked M+S and 3PMSF. According to Michelin calculations using Vecto, new emission measurement tool that will be used next year to determine the environmental compatibility of vehicles, both D and Z models produce a 3.3 ton reduction of CO2 emissions on an annual basis and a cost reduction of 3000 euro per 100,000 kilometres (the reference vehicle is a tractor-trailer unit with 4x2 tractor and three-axle semi-trailer, used for 50% on regional routes and the remaining 50 on long hauls).

Produced in the European Union in manufacturing plants certified ISO 14001 and on the market since October last year in size 315/70 R22.5 (which means 11% of all steering tires sold on the market) with load index 156/170 and speed code L, the X Multi Energy are approved as OEMs by Iveco, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Renault Trucks and Volvo Trucks; Scania will follow later in the year. As from last April they have also been available on the replacement market; new sizes might be launched in the near future.

 

ALL-SEASONS FOR VANS

The name, AgilisCrossClimate, just about says it all: designed for light commercial vehicles such as Agilis and multi-seasonal as the CrossClimate range. We are looking at a predominantly summer product at ease even in winter conditions (marked 3PMSF), with a sturdy and shock-resistant structure as required in urban delivery services. Thanks to its multi-seasonal nature, operators can significantly reduce their TCO.

 

GOODBYE AIR

The new Michelin X-Tweel non-pneumatic radial wheels are intended for steer-skid loaders. Complementary to Bibsteel tires, they come in AllTerrain versions, with deep and open grooves and a remarkable self-cleaning capacity, and in Hard Surface traction version for hard surfaces such as tar and cement, with smaller grooves. The absence of air guarantees an even contact patch, reducing maintenance costs and downtime while increasing driving comfort at the same time. The structure is made by a composite tread ring and resin spokes, with a cushioning function. Duration is expected to be two to three times longer than that of a pneumatic counterpart. X-Tweels are available in 12N-16.5 size as AllTerrain and Hard SurfaceTraction and 10N-16.5 as AllTerrains. The weight varies from 80 to 115 kg per wheel.

 

AIR PRESSURE UNDER CONTROL

The Michelin group recently acquired two companies specialized in designing and producing pressure and inflation control systems on farming machines: one is Tèlèflow, a French company founded in 1993, and PTG a German firm founded in 1991. Téléflow has 39 employees and operates in inflation systems such as In-Motion Control, which maintains set pressure measured according to selected parameters such as load and terrain type. PTG has 19 employees and manufactures systems for use on static vehicles such as Airbox-Mobil and on moving machines such as Ras.

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