AKRON—James Hawk, chairman, Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc. and the 2013 Rubber and Plastics News Executive of the Year, touched on a number of topics affecting the tire industry during his keynote address at the International Tire Exhibition Conference at the John S. Knight Center on Sept. 10.
Hawk, a 40-year tire industry veteran who oversees Toyo's only tire manufacturing operation in the U.S., located in White, Ga., discussed upcoming regulations that tire manufacturers will need to stay ahead of, and the importance of advanced technology and material science.
“I appreciate everything that our technology people do,” Hawk said. “The real key to what we do is design and material science. Material science today is incredible because it is right down to the molecular or the nano-technology level. The research is very, very significant, and I do everything to continue to support those efforts.
“With the new standards coming out from original equipment makers, this material science is absolutely critical.”
Hawk said fuel economy initiatives are only going to get stricter, and car companies have their agenda from the federal government that trickles down to tire manufacturers. That is true particularly for new hybrid models.
“Rolling resistance is a major, major criterion now, and it's not just throwing silica or sand in the treads,” Hawk said. “It's element analysis, mold shapes and designs at the molecular level. That's a lot of good work that's work going on in our industry, and it will pay off in better fuel mileage.”
Hawk outlined Toyo's U.S. manufacturing capabilities in White, which uses Advanced Tire Operation Modules—a proprietary process the firm utilizes to manufacture on a hands-free basis and, according to Hawk, produces tires at a highly repeatable rate.
The firm's White facility operates 34 ATOM machines, which can produce seven to eight tires at a time. Its latest expansion is projected to bring the total to about 40 machines.