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Continental Tire Opens New Retread Solutions Center

Continental Tire the Americas has announced the opening of a new Retread Solutions Development Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina, which the company hopes will help them take the next steps towards closing the gap between themselves and the three leading new tyre manufacturers (Bridgestone, Goodyear and Michelin), who dominate the retreading sector in North America.

New Centre to Focus on Process and Technology Development

The company says the primary role of the new Development Center is to focus on retread process improvements and technology development, with the goal of bringing innovation and up-to-date retread processes to Continental’s Retread Solutions Partners and the fleets they serve. The integration of equipment and processes including machine automation will be a key area of focus as will the development of casing tracking systems using RFID technology to allow the automatic tracking of casings through the production process.

The new facility will also help strengthen Continental Retread Solutions Partnerships through virtual and augmented training.

“This centre gives us a unique opportunity to continue to make advancements in the retreading part of our business,” commented Shaun Uys, Vice President, Truck Tires US. “Not only will we be able to continue to improve our process, but we can also now provide our Continental Retread Solutions Partners with hands on training from miles away.”

Designed and set up as a retread shop, the centre allows the team to test new processes in the same environment that is used by their Continental Retread Solutions Partners to help improve the retread process. This facility provides Continental with the ability to train their Continental Retread Solutions Partner right from the center using the same equipment the partners use. Equipment used in the facility includes shearography equipment from SDS-Systemtechnik, buffing equipment from Matteuzzi and a VMI Retraxx cushion gum extruder.

Fleet owners will also be able to tour the centre to see at first hand the retread technology that is used on their tyres when working with a Continental Retread Solutions Partner.

Continental are the first to admit that they are still at the early stages of developing their position in the retreading market and at the moment the focus is on getting the right products, the right retreading partners and the right support facilities in place, and the opening of the Retread Development Center is part of that process.

“Our message is that we are looking for partners and are open for business,” explained Shaun Uys.

“Continental is the player most likely to disrupt the status quo in the retread market,” added John Cox, Continental’s Head of Retread for the North American market. “Retreading is a big opportunity for us, especially in digital solutions, and our plan over the next 5-10 years is to ourselves onto that path. We are ready to meet the challenge and have identified many customers who are ready to convert. We believe we are in a position to be able to double in size.”

Unlike in Europe, where Continental’s retread business has been concentrated largely on mould cure retreading, the development of the ContiLifeCycle plant in Hannover, and the acquisition and integration of Bandvulc in the UK, the company’s strategy in North America is to concentrate on the precure sector, which makes up the vast majority of the market. Furthermore, the company emphasises that its plan is to appoint and work with nominated retread partners rather than operate company owned facilities. Any “white spots” in the market can be filled in by Continental’s network of 30 Best Drive centres, of which there are currently around 30 in the US.

Continental says it is looking to increase the size of its networks, both in terms or retread production partners and its service network, but was hesitant to publicly state its targets.

Tread rubber for the retread plants is produced at Continental’s facility in Mt Vernon, Illinois as well as at a further facility in Mexico.

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