RETREADING, A HEAVY DUTY BUSINESS
More trucks, busses, tractors and earth moving machines use retreaded tires than ever before. Europe’s leading company relates about its technology and the market.
How has the retreaded market for commercial and industrial vehicles changed? Pneurama spoke about it with Brenno Benaglia, commercial director of Marangoni SpA Commercial & Industrial Tires.
-How is Marangoni’s offer for industrial and light commercial vehicle tires organized on the Italian market?
-Retreads make up our core business. Our Marix brand, our premium retreads made in our Rovereto factory since 2010, is a medium and high range product aimed at a variety of vehicles from 4x4s to commercial and industrial vehicles, and earth moving machines as well. For trucks, our offer is structured around two product ranges, the RP and RP100, which have a five-year guarantee and are mostly made with low rolling resistance compounds. Renova, a brand of tires made by a German company we took over many years ago, offers a limited range of tires (it supplies only the most requested sizes) with a very interesting quality/price ratio. On the other hand, we are dropping the MBM tire brand, the result of another take-over made years ago. Finally, we are introducing a range of new tires with the Marangoni trademark, thanks to an agreement with another premium manufacturer. This range of new tires will increase the service we provide for our clients and will provide us with more casings for our retreads.
-Replacing a well-known brand like Marangoni with a new one like Marix was a courageous move indeed. How did the idea come about?
-The brand was created a few years ago for a range of tires for off-road and light commercial vehicles. We then decided to extend it to the whole range of our tires, including our premium RP100 (for which only premium manufacturer casings are used), to clearly identify the retreads “made in Marangoni” from our new tires, and to give our products a brand identity that sets it apart from the competition. We are also painting our famous yellow delivery vehicles with the new brand. We firmly believe in the Marix brand, and it is for this reason that we planned an eight million euro investment for the next three years to upgrade our Rovereto factory: vulcanizing presses, layout and production lines. We believe in the economic recovery of Europe; organizations like ours will likely feel the turning of the tide before others.
- How is the Italian distribution network structured?
-Logistics is paramount, since we have to distribute our tires (both new and retreads) and at the same time pick up used casings. For each area we have an overseer (someone in the company) and an agent, who pick up the casings in purchase account. We practically cover the whole country, with the exception of a few areas where sales volumes are insufficient. In Triveneto and Romagna we also cooperate with Pneusmarket, a tire retailing network, made up by a few companies in which Marangoni holds stakes.
Beside these, we also count on Fedigomme, an organization that deals with big fleets (some road transport firms and many former local public transport companies) providing the management of the tires for the whole fleet and the sale per km. Furthermore, our presence is felt even in a few large harbors, due to our great experience in cargo movement and lifting and our unique retreads specifically made for cargo movement within harbors. And finally we also received UNI EN ISO 9001, 14001 and TÜV approvals.
-Assisting clients in the heavy transport and earthmoving sectors isn’t easy, so how do you it?
-We are not too concerned with punctures and other damages: that is a tire fitter’s job, which is already well managed by our partners. We concentrate mostly on giving expert advice: we listen to our clients needs, and show them the best solutions for them regarding tires and services, as well as listening to the clients’ observations for future products. Experience is important to us, and through constant training, we impart it to our agents. Meetings here in Rovereto cannot exclude a visit to the production plant, where a lot can be learned on the technology behind a retreaded tire.
- How do you see the future of retreads in Italy?
-Bright; as long as the entire sector continues to evolve reducing the technology gap existing between some tire retreaders and premium manufacturers. New truck tires, for example, are quite different from anything available before; therefore, if you do not know them, you cannot retread them properly. That way you lose your market share. Considering what has been happening on the market, we cannot afford that: since 2007-08, truck tire consumption has lost about a third of its volume. Keeping up with the technological development of new tires allows us to produce retreads with longer lifespan and reduced running costs, giving new impetus to our market, but for this to be possible we have to invest in new technologies.
- Is the availability of casings fit for retreads still a problem?
Yes. During the first five months of 2014, good casings were fewer. Many use them far too much, and this makes it difficult to retread them according to our standards. Others purchase low-end tires, which, even if used correctly can hardly bear a retreading process. Standard tires are clearly penalized by this situation. As far as our new tires, 90% of the casings eventually return to us, which is really an excellent result.
- Which transport segment makes greater use of retreads?
-First of all local public transport; the minimum percentage required by law is 20%, but we are way above that: currently we stand at 40%. Then we find waste collection, quarries and building sites and finally regional transport. But we are starting to be appreciated also by some long range road transport companies; in this sector reliability plays a vital role and only those who understand the needs of the market are allowed in.
- Is the retreads market changing?
-Yes. And for many reasons. First of all the different loading capacity of transport vehicles compared to the past results in a more demanding use. Then, most vehicles go through an intensive use, they cannot stand for too long; and ultimately labeling is becoming mandatory, and this will, within a couple of years, introduce more significant guarantees for the user. In other words, we are expected to keep up with the new tire market. The whole retreads production chain (that is, us and our dealers) must work shoulder to shoulder. During the training sessions with our partners we insist a lot on this point; we may at times sound obsessive, but it is essential if we are to remain in business, the future looks bright but it depends on technological development. Otherwise we would soon become the victims of a challenging market, suffering, at the same time, from the price drop of new tires, the increased cost of energy, logistics, labor and, last but not least, the price of retreadable casings.
-Marangoni is a well-known brand throughout the world and Marix is also rapidly spreading on foreign markets. Could you tell us in a nut shell how your retreads are faring in the different areas of the market?
-It differs according to the market. Italy is fast becoming a country of regional transport, just as France is now. We need, therefore, a product that meets this need. Luca Mai, Sales Executive Manager for Commercial & Earth-moving tires, will confirm that we are already the European leaders as far as retreads for the earth-moving sector are concerned, and also how, thanks to the reputation built in this sector, we are having good results throughout the EU also in the transport sector. In Eastern Europe, the situation is rather complicated because we are up against low-end products and the competition is mostly based on prices. The Middle East and Russia are promising markets for earth-moving retreads, up to size 51”, since the only competition comes from new tires.
MARANGONI, 69 YEARS OF HISTORY
The Marangoni group originates from a tire repair workshop based in Rovereto (TN) in 1945. The retreading business started in 1955; and as early as 1959, the company became a group with three distinct divisions: tire retreading, equipment manufacturing and distribution. The present factory based in Rovereto, built following the company’s great industrial development, opened in 1969. Cold retreading then was added to hot cure retreading. By 1985, the company had its own incinerator, fueled with scrap casings, that supplies all the needed energy in full compliance with environmental laws. In 1990, the company took over Ellerbrock of Hamburg, opening a new factory in Hurzburg in 1993, which eventually became Marangoni Retreading Systems Deutschland in 2011. International approvals UNECE 108 and 109 were obtained in 1999; 2002 saw the opening of a new factory in Brazil followed a year later by the United States. 2007 saw the launching of the new R & D centre and a commercial agency in Shanghai. The last two factories were opened in 2009 in Sri Lanka and 2013 in Argentina.
FULL-CYCLE SUPPLY CHAIN
The group’s activities cover the entire retread production and distribution chain supply. Light transport, off-road and industrial vehicle retreads are made in Rovereto and bear the brands Marix and Renova. The Retreading Systems division supplies retreading technology and through its brand Ringtread operates globally with factories in Italy, Germany, South and North America. Marangoni Meccanica manufactures equipment for the production of new tires, and through its TRM division does the same for retreads of all types and sizes. The Marangoni group is also active in the industrial tires sector, while Pneusmarket is a distribution network of subsidiaries widespread in North East Italy.