HANOVER, Germany—Michelin and Continental A.G., together with a French software developer, are working together to develop a technological solution for mapping sustainability practices in the natural rubber supply chain.
The companies are setting up a joint venture—Societe des Matieres Premieres Tropicales Pte. Ltd. in Singapore—to oversee the initiative, which will focus on developing and deploying "Rubberway," a "technical platform" (smartphone application) that allows users to map and assess practices and risks regarding environmental issues, social affairs and corporate social responsibility governance throughout the natural-rubber industry, from rubber-processing plants downstream to plantations upstream, according to the partners.
The third partner is SMAG S.A., a Montpelier, France-based software developer for the agriculture sector, which helped Michelin develop the Rubberway app that has been in used since 2017. SMAG stands for "smart agriculture."
Due for operation by year-end, the JV will comply with the objectives of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, of which both Conti and Michelin are founding members.
Michelin said the Rubberway app was developed to map the tire maker's NR supply chain in different geographical areas. The technical platform already is used in some NR-producing countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana and Brazil, Michelin said.
In this joint venture, Michelin will contribute its rights of use as well as its user experience on the ground.
Continental's investment in the JV will go toward opening the path to wider use of the application by other tire makers and car parts manufacturers.
SMAG will be sharing all its technological and sector-specific expertise in digital solutions for agriculture.
The natural rubber supply chain includes around 6 million farmers, 100,000 intermediaries and over 500 processing plants.