Kal Tire Innovates

Kal Tire looks to expand its geographic footprint.

Tyre management and services supplier Kal Tire is looking to radically expand its market share in the African tyre industry – this is on the back of innovative developments and a strategic focus on expanding its geographic footprint.

The tyre industry is worth around R30-billion per annum and is one of the key supporting industries for the domestic automotive industry. While two million locally manufactured tyres are exported mainly to Southern African Development Community regions, 60% of all truck tyres are imported; this is according to Markets Insider’s The Tyre Industry in South Africa 2017.

Kal Tire South Africa currently has 10 mining branches (Steelpoort, Barberton, Secunda, Richards Bay, Middelburg, Northern Cape, Welkom, Rustenburg, Bafokeng and Randfontein), and five commercial truck branches (Brits, Alrode, Durban, Bloemfontein and Cape Town).

As part of its strategic approach to grow in emerging economies, the company plans on strengthening its presence in the Northern Cape, which it believes will promote further business opportunities in the complementary sectors. In the near future, Kal Tire intends to expand its customer footprint in Botswana, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo – these are resource-rich geographies that have a strong mining presence.

“Kal Tire already has a strong operational presence in many remote geographies in Africa and on other continents,” says John Martin, vice president, Kal Tire Southern Africa. “This is a testament to the company’s ability to mobilise the right resources to provide professional tyre services to our customer base wherever they operate.”

Innovation and technology

Canada’s largest independent tyre dealer recently launched its latest innovations in services and product solutions, namely: Tyre Operations Management System (TOMS), Gravity Assist System (GAS) and Alpha Mining Systems.

TOMS – enhancing performance

According to Kal Tire, its recently launched TOMS offers predictive maintenance and efficiency, and delivers a new standard in operational performance.

The technology enables mine operators to analyse and make tyre- and fleet-related decisions based on real-time data. The technology has already been implemented on 36 open-pit and underground mines across 12 countries, including six in Africa (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia).

According to Dan Allan, senior vice president at Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group, TOMS, which is unique to Kal Tire, sets the company apart from its competitors. “With TOMS, we look at making tyre management a proactive and predictive service, like much of the mobile equipment maintenance activities on any mine.”

Mark Goode, director of business insights at Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group, said the deliberate and structured rolling out of TOMS across Kal Tire mine site operations marked the start of a fundamental shift in communication with its mining customers and delivered a story “that’s more relevant and tied to both fleet availability and operational productivity”.

Consequently, the benefits to miners are significant and enable informed decisions based on real-time insights.

“Using TOMS, we currently capture around 12 000 individual wheel position inspections from the 36 mine sites each week and our intention is to double the number of mine sites using the system in the year ahead,” explained Goode.

Kal Tire also launched both its GAS and Air Valve Protector at Electra Mining Africa recently. The GAS, which the tyre manufacturer says renders the hefty 36kg torque gun “weightless”, makes the process more efficient and precise. The system reduces common risks associated with torque gun tasks, such as pinched fingers, muscle strain and fatigue.

In addition, as stated by Peter Nilsson, innovation, research and development manager at Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group, the GAS offers reduced downtime, is safer to use and easier to operate, and reduces the number of physical body strains and fatigue.

It was first tested in Canada in early 2018 and now Canada, Australia and Southern Africa each have units operating.

The Air Valve Protector was developed to prevent rocks from damaging the valve stems – a common occurrence that often leads to pressure leaks and vehicle downtime at open-pit mines.

Furthermore, following Kal Tire’s search for a tyre able to carry extreme loads and contend with high temperatures and wet conditions experienced in underground mining applications, the company recently launched its preferred distribution agreement with Alpha Mining Systems – a tyre that successfully fulfils the underground mining industry’s needs.

“Alpha tyres work extremely well in coal mines as machine overloading is prominent on the underground shuttle cars. The product also works extremely well on the support equipment like drill rigs, roof bolters and utility vehicles,” explained Patrick Brown, Kal Tire South Africa’s sales and marketing head. He added that given the interest for the product from South Africa’s neighbouring countries, the company will soon be launching Alpha Mining Systems in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia.

“Mining is going through a period of ever-increasing technology in terms of equipment applications and digital incorporation. Therefore Kal Tire, like any mining supplier, needs to keep pace with these changes. At Kal Tire, we push to find new ways to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations and requirements,” said Brown.

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