DUSSELDORF, Germany-VMI Epe Holland B.V. plans to begin making tire building machinery at its VMI Americas Inc. subsidiary next year, and is more than doubling the size of the Stow, Ohio, facility to accommodate the added production.
The company also is in the final stages of negotiation on a manufacturing venture in China, and is teaming up with extruder manufacturer Hermann Berstorff Maschinenbau GmbH to develop a tire building system that will extrude components directly onto the tire in progress.
VMI is adding nearly 26,000 square feet to the seven-year-old VMI Americas facility in Stow, where it currently makes breaker cutters and other ancillary equipment. The firm declined to divulge the investment.
In China, VMI is clarifying final details on a joint venture agreement with Yantai Machinery Co. in Yantai for the production of single stage tire building machines for radial tires.
VMI intends to hold 60 percent of the venture, Yantai VMI Machinery, which is expected to be operational almost immediately in existing facilities; a new manufacturing plant is planned, however, said VMI Managing Director J.J. Spanjer. Initially the unit will be supplying equipment to Goodyear Dalian, but eventually could be a source of equipment for other southeast Asian markets, Spanjer said.
VMI will supply key components from the Netherlands, but the intent is to have the majority of the work done in Yantai.
Separately, VMI and Berstorff have agreed to cooperate on the development of equipment that represents the next generation of tire building technology. This concept, which would eliminate the need for semi-finished components such as treads, sidewalls, or even innerliners, is at the heart of the much-vaunted ``C3M'' building system developed by Groupe Michelin.
The number one goal of the technology is to increase productivity and flexibility, VMI said, which will lead to lower cost per tire. Direct extrusion onto a tire casing (in a toroidal, or inflated state) would more likely than not involve a form of strip winding, which in turn would increase uniformity by virtually eliminating splices, sources said.
VMI and Berstorff anticipate having a demonstration unit for truck tires ready by mid-1996, with a passenger car tire unit to follow, perhaps by year's end 1996, according to VMI.