BKT looks back on 10 years of their extraordinary tire lineup for the OTR segment and takes the opportunity to give an outlook on future developments and market objectives.
Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT), one of the leading Off-Highway tire manufacturers headquartered in India, has chosen the splendid historical setting of Crete to celebrate 10 years of their milestone EARTHMAX together with distributors and partners arriving from every corner of the world. International press was also invited to assist some sessions and to attend a Press Conference. On the occasion, BKT announced its objective to achieve a 10% market share in the All Steel radial segment of the global OTR market by 2025.
For an entire week, the Out of the Blue, Capsis Elite Resort on a private peninsula near Heraklion, Crete and its excellent meeting facilities provided the venue for the 10th Anniversary Celebrations of BKT’s milestone EARTHMAX. BKT’s distributors and partners, in particular company owners, managers and marketing specialists, landed on June 1, 2018 on the island of Crete to participate in the event. Celebrations started officially with a one-day Conference, in which high-ranking company officials illustrated past, present and future of the EARTHMAX tire lineup providing also profound and valuable insights into the OTR market in general. During the following days, BKT offered its guests a multifaceted, colorful program including several teambuilding activities and as cultural highlight an excursion to the Palace of Knossos, the largest archeological site on Crete and Europe’s oldest city. On June 5, after the departure of BKT’s distribution partners, several representatives of the international press arrived to attend the Press Conference scheduled for the next day.
After the launch of the first EARTHMAX tire for loaders in 2008, today EARTHMAX is BKT’s extensive range of All Steel radial OTR tires designed to withstand even the harshest operating conditions in quarries, mines and construction sites. Enhanced by the common feature of a strong All Steel structure conferring the tire casing durability and excellent resistance against impacts, the EARTHMAX range of radial OTR tires is ready to face and master any adversity. After the development of tires for loaders followed by rigid dumpers, today also Giant tires are part of the EARTHMAX tire lineup.
The Conference was officially opened by Mr. Arvind Poddar, President and Managing Director of BKT, with a great motivational speech addressed to the audience of distributors: “Like building and constructing the Palace of Knossos was a great achievement and advancement in ancient times, similarly building and engineering our first EARTHMAX tire has been a great achievement and advancement in modern times – a milestone in BKT’s history.” Mr. Poddar explained how the company full of visionary spirit had seen the opportunity of entering the OTR segment against and despite the backdrop of the global crisis. “EARTHMAX is a tool but also your mate in the most challenging operations that ensures safety, performance and quality, as well as time and cost savings. A true representative of our corporate history and values.” Subsequently, the President draw parallels between tire performance features and corporate values. He explicated e.g. that resistance, a tire’s capacity of withstanding impacts such as forces, cuts, wear, heat or any other adverse condition, related to the company’s ability of facing and overcoming any situation or obstacle that might call into question credibility, reliability and reputation. A tire’s robustness was compared to staying upright and withstanding possible counterattacks. Traction was used as a metaphor for leadership and being a forerunner. Comfort was related to the corporate philosophy paying attention to coworkers, their quality of life and well-being. The speech concluded with a thought addressed to future generations: “It is our duty to transmit such values guiding us today and our business in such a way that future generations will have the right tools to continue our path, to bring in new ideas and new approaches to the market – yet, keeping in mind, as we did – the faith to our history and role as well as the underlying commitment and passion.”
The second speaker at the Conference was Mr. Rajiv Poddar, Joint Managing Director of BKT, who talked about the initial challenges entering the OTR All Steel radial segment, the methodical approach by means of three PDCA cycles for loader, rigid dumper, and Giant tire development. “The development and production start of OTR Giant tires has been possible after the strategic transfer of the entire OTR All Steel radial manufacturing line to our state-of-the-art production site in Bhuj in 2014-2015. The opening of the Bhuj production plant has been part of our overall strategy to gain a foothold in the global OTR tire market and to strive for our strategic vision to reach a sales volume of 40,000 MT per year in the All Steel radial segment by 2020 worldwide on the path to meeting our strategic objectives to reach a 10% market share in OTR by 2025, when our Bhuj site will run at full capacity.” Mr. Poddar jr. illustrated then a series of Case Studies as a reality check of the highly demanding conditions in the mining and construction sector, highlighting the importance of evaluating specific performance criteria in order to recommend the best solution from both a technical and a financial point of view, and the necessity of being ready to promptly intervene. In this context, the role of the on-site tire service provider becomes essential. The company has already drawn up an overall service strategy, which will be adapted at a local level in cooperation with the distributors.
The Conference concluded with a talk by Mr. Dilip Vaidya, President and Director of Technology of BKT, who pointed out that he was not standing there to look back, but he was always focused on innovation and new technologies that would lead the company to the NEXT LEVEL. He started to outline the mining sector as one of the toughest sectors on Earth. “In these rocky, abrasive and harsh environment, tires are exposed to extreme mechanical stress and fatigue, to extremely heavy loads the toughest handling and transport conditions,” Mr. Vaidya explained. He gave then an overview of the challenges in tire design and development, especially Giant tire development, and mentioned the advantages of latest-generation machinery that was purchased for improved compounding, steel cord processing and steel cord cutting along with a new Tire Building Machine to complete and enhance the complex tire manufacturing process. -”We could say,” he said – “that for building a Giant tire, a Giant process is needed.”
Afterwards, Mr. Vaidya made mention of quality standards and measures and spoke about the unprecedented changes in technology at a global level. “We are searching into solutions to cope with sensor-assisted autonomous transportation, enhanced tire and equipment integration systems, data flow and analytics optimization for increased productivity – all this in compliance with the megatrends of sustainability, diverse mobility, electrification, and safety,“ he explicated. With reference to these megatrends he pointed out the importance of sustainability: “While improving our products and enhancing technologies, it is our responsibility and also great opportunity and challenge to make our contribution to a mere sustainable future for everyone living on this planet.”
BKT has indeed, recently entered into a Joint Research Agreement with KULTEVAT, Inc., a leading US biotechnology company that is specialized in the cultivation and procession of TKS DANDELION as a renewable and sustainable alternative for natural rubber, which has become a critical material. After an experimental research stage, the supply of one metric ton of stabilized TKS RUBBER is provided by October 2019. “In addition to Lab optimization and manufacturing process trials on all of our tire ranges, we will also focus on compounding methods for the specific OTR segment,” Mr. Vaidya specified. Other ongoing projects are based on the development of high-performance compounds by means of nanomaterials or nanocomposites providing enhanced thermal and mechanical stability. Research in this field focuses on graphene, nanoclay and nanocellulose. In this context, also BKT’s recently opened CARBON BLACK manufacturing plant comes into play. Mr. Vaidya concluded his speech by emphasizing the importance of on-site OTR tire service presenting a few tools and support methods.
Not only at this Conference but through all related activities organized during these momentous celebrations of the 10th EARTHMAX Anniversary, BKT has proven once again its commitment to progress by means of significant investments into research and the implementation of all findings for the purpose of providing end users with high-quality products. Having entered and conquered the OTR radial tire segment, the company is definitely reaching the NEXT LEVEL through the manufacturing of OTR Giant tires.