AKRON—Demand for industrial tires—especially for forklifts and small construction vehicles—is improving this year, according to Ydo Doornbos, managing director for Trelleborg Wheel Systems Americas Inc., which specializes in solid tires for the industrial, OTR and agricultural markets.
The tire market for the Class 2 and 3 forklift trucks “remains very solid,” Doornbos said. “We do see, because of the recovering economy over the last months, a stronger Class 1, 4 and 5.”
In North America “the forklift industry is really, really solid,” he said, based on shipment data.
Sales of new forklift trucks surged about a year ago, and now those vehicles are requiring replacement tires, he noted. “So the aftermarket is very healthy going forward as well.”
“Trelleborg believes the forklift is one of the most important vehicles on earth,” said Jessica Aubley, marketing communications manager for Akron-based Trelle-borg Wheel Systems Americas. “Just about everything around you right now has probably been moved in some format with a forklift, whether it's been brought over from a different country and moved off of a pallet somewhere, or if it was in a warehouse.”
Trelleborg's industrial tire division manufactures tires, rubber tracks and wheel assemblies for industrial equipment, including forklifts, boom lifts, container loaders, passenger boarding bridges and skid steers.
Trelleborg recently launched its Pit Stop Line wear indicator feature for its premium range industrial tires.
An orange line embedded in the tire becomes visible across the tire surface when the rubber has reached the end of its lifetime, the company said.
“With the Pit Stop Line appearing 100 hours or five to 15 working days before the tire needs replacing, operators are able to plan their tire changes in advance, totally eradicating unplanned downtime,” the company said. Trelleborg said the wear indicator also helps reduce waste from premature tire replacement.
The company also recently launched an Interfit USA website to enable consumers to buy forklift tires and find local dealers to service them.
Canada will be included in the Interfit network next year once the search engine is developed, Doornbos said, and then eventually it will be expanded to Mexico.
He said Trelleborg is working on phasing Pit Stop Line tires into the Americas. The product “really helps the user to understand when it is the right time to replace the tires. Because what we found in our studies through Interfit is that users are replacing tires too soon—with about 20 percent wear left on their tires—which means they're spending unnecessary down time and expense.
“Whereas the Pit Stop Line is providing them the indication, clear indication with the orange script that becomes visible about 100 hours before the tire really wears out, so they can anticipate and plan when it's the right time for them to replace the tire.”
The tire maker is analyzing how to also incorporate the wear indicator into its construction tires, Doornbos added.