CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio—The future of the tire industry depends on how it responds to the revolution of transport systems globally, said Surendra Chawla, senior director of external science and technology programs at Goodyear.
Chawla, in his keynote address at ITEC in Focus: Reinforcements for Tire Performance in Cuyahoga Falls, Sept. 13-14, outlined some factors that will continue to challenge the tire industry, including social, economic, environmental and regulatory obstacles. The direction of technology will continue with a focus toward advances in engine and powertrain; hybrid, electric and alternative-fueled vehicles; advanced software and sensors; advanced structures and materials; and efficient design and manufacturing processes.
"The industry in general is focusing on tires that provide ultra lightweight, low rolling resistance, improved noise and vibration and handling. Intelligent tires that can communicate with smart vehicles of the future," Chawla said.
Goodyear has identified four industry drivers that are shaping the company's industry strategy for the future, starting today with "Industry growing and mixing up," and moving forward to "Increasing complexity" and "Empowered consumer" by 2020. Farther into the future, "Autonomous vehicles" will impact the industry.
As the tire industry evolves, manufacturers will continue to develop and expand into solutions with nanotechnology, smart and responsive materials, natural materials, molecular modeling, biomimicry, manufacturing flexibility, sensors and data analytics. No single entity in the industry will have the bandwidth to tackle these challenges alone, Chawla said.
"We will need to question new approaches with a different mindset," he said. "It is imperative that the global network for research and development evolve."
One area of research for Goodyear is the use of rice husk ash to create tire-grade silica. Rice husk ash, a byproduct of rice harvesting, can be used as an environmentally friendly, low-cost alternative to highly dispersible silica in tire tread compounds. Goodyear launched a product using RHA in 2016, and is currently working on developing capacity with partners, Chawla said.
As the future approaches, the tire industry will remain relevant to the automotive ecosystem and continue to grow. "That's the good news," he said.
To overcome future obstacles and benefit from those industry megatrends, the tire industry will need to innovate and cooperate, Chawla said.