UNIONTOWN, Ohio—Giti Tire Group's North American research and development center, which opened a couple of years ago in Uniontown, is gearing up for expansion to support the tire maker's first North American tire plant under construction in South Carolina.
“We are going to be expanding the capabilities of our center. Once the plant goes into operation, our complex will change somewhat in order to support the production there and introduce new tires,” said Hamid Aboutorabi, director of the R&D center.
The U.S. facility is one of five R&D centers the Singapore-based tire maker operates—the others are in China, Indonesia, the United Kingdom and Germany. These facilities design tires for Giti's tire factories in China and Indonesia. The U.S. passenger/light truck tire plant is expected to start production by year-end or early 2017.
Despite being scattered around the world, there is a lot of coordination between the Giti R&D centers, Aboutorabi said.
“Our challenge has been so far to build a unified global R&D center for Giti Tire where we can draw on resources from each R&D center to bring to the same project, and we have done a fairly good job in that area. We have R&D in China, Indonesia, here in the U.S. and also Germany. We have put an infrastructure of communication for technology sharing that has essentially unified our approach in our technology,” he said.
“Right now all the products are produced overseas so we've been working very closely with R&D centers in those two countries, China and Indonesia, in order to define really the characteristics of the tires that this market requires and make them aware of what the consumers here are looking for.
“The engineers who work in China R&D, they live and drive the vehicles (there) and are familiar with the road conditions over there.
“It's our task to really educate them on what the needs of this market is and help them in a collaborative environment to design new tires that satisfy the requirements of this market.” He noted that all-season performance is a unique requirement for the North American tire market.