BHUJ, India—Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT) is on the verge of joining an elite group of tire makers capable of producing giant OTR tires with 57-inch or greater rim diameters.
BKT disclosed recently it has begun field testing of its Earthmax XR 468 tire, size 40.00R57, designed for rigid dump trucks. The tire is being produced at BKT's factory in Bhuj, in northwest India's Gujarat state near the border with Pakistan.
BKT began installing the equipment in January necessary for making giant OTR tires, but the installation and commissioning were delayed by government-imposed production shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, BKT said.
The new tire will undergo "rigorous" reliability and quality testing through spring 2021, BKT said. The tire's commercial launch will take place when management is "absolutely sure" the product is ready, according to Dilip Vaidya, president and director of technology.
"Despite the pandemic and the extreme difficulties caused by the situation, in BKT we achieved the impossible: going ahead very determinedly but with a similar focus on people, who for us are the company's real assets," Rajiv Poddar, joint managing director of BKT, said.
He cited the "extraordinary determination" of the BKT staff to work through the restriction presented by the pandemic to bring this project to fruition.
BKT indicated at the Bhuj plant's opening in 2015 that it intended eventually to add capacity for 57-inch giant tires, but until now its largest OTR tires were of 51-inch rim diameter sizes.
BKT broke ground on the Bhuj plant—built east of Bhuj in a desert area in Gujarat state—in January 2011 and produced the first pneumatic tire in March 2012.