For Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group, it has been a year of firsts and looking to the future of what it means to provide mining tyre management solutions that improve sustainability and tyre performance as well as safety and productivity.
New Mining Tyre Developments from Kal Tire
At MINExpo 2021, the company showcased several unique new offerings, including its thermal conversion OTR tyre recycling facility, two first-of-the-kind tools that will change how technicians work safely around the wheel, and a programme that provides customers with actual accredited data on the emissions savings of retreading, Ultra Tread and Ultra Repair.
“We’re in a time when mines are acting on new and forward-thinking commitments to the environment, people and communities touched by mining operations,” commented Dan Allan, senior vice president, Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group. “The emphasis on ESG issues is exciting in many ways because we’re showcasing several big and bold solutions that align with this future-minded focus. We’re developing offerings that don’t exist so we can protect people from risk and bring mining operations even greater safety, productivity and sustainability.”
One of the biggest innovation projects Kal Tire will celebrate this year is reaching full production of its new OTR tyre recycling facility in northern Chile. The thermal conversion process uses heat and friction to induce a reaction that converts tyres into their base elements: Each day, one of two reactors will have the capacity to convert five 63” tyres weighing nearly 20,000 kg into 6,500 litres of alternative fuel, 4,000 kg of steel and 8,000 kg of carbon black as well as enough synthetic gas to fuel the plant itself for seven hours.
“We were committed to developing a solution that is practical and scalable, and yet one at the top of the recycling hierarchy that contributes to a circular economy,” said Allan.
Kal Tire is also helping customers to act on and demonstrate environmental stewardship through its unique Maple Program, which provides actual data on oil and carbon emissions saved when they retread tyres compared to buying new. The foundation of the Maple Program is Kal Tire’s custom-built carbon calculator that was developed after analysing more than 125,000 production records spanning 20 years, and is validated by SCS Global Services, an international leader in third-party environmental certification. New in 2021 is the Maple Program’s addition of Ultra Repair: Mines that use Kal Tire’s exclusive process for repairing large injuries to tyres that would otherwise be scrapped can now quantify and report on the environmental benefits of using Ultra Repair vs buying new tyres.
Since opening its Innovation Centre in western Canada, Kal Tire has developed several tools now in use that help protect technicians from risk and improve efficiency and productivity, including the Gravity Assist System, Ram Mount Tool, Air Valve Protector and others. At MINExpo, Kal Tire showcased two first-of-the-kind tools to improve safe work around the wheel: Wheel Inspection and Magnet Clamp.
The Wheel Inspection allows mines, for the first time, to inspect wheels on-site as the mobile unit scans and indicates cracks along weld lines or ring grooves that could compromise wheel integrity and safety. As earthmover equipment is subjected to ever-increasing loads and speeds, and wheels risk fractures in sensitive areas, wheels play an integral role in mine safety. The Wheel Inspection also saves mines from sending wheels great distances for testing.
The Magnet Clamp allows tyre technicians to safely perform the last, and most dangerous, step of removing an OTR tyre and wheel assembly as a remote-controlled clamp secures and then releases the last two wheel bolts. Typically, for this final step, technicians must stand underneath a tyre manipulator forklift bearing the weight of the assembly.
“We believe every team member should be able to return home safely at the end of the day, and that’s why we’ve invested in the research and development of these tyre management tools. They prove how thinking about new ways of working and having tools designed for the job can make such a difference for technicians’ safety, and also create efficiencies and help trucks stay in production,” said Allan.
TOMS—the company’s proprietary Tire Operations Management System, now in use on 130+ mine sites—could also be described as a productivity tool as it enables planned maintenance and turns tyre inspections into actions. With TOMS, issues can be caught early to help prevent unplanned tyre work and meet tyre performance goals. Teams can also use both real-time performance data and company-wide tyre management data to identify more ways to improve uptime.
Kal Tire leans on TOMS, its innovation products and its specialised training approach to help ensure technicians work safely and to the Kal Tire standard on every mine site. A Learning Management System offering 300+ online safety and technical training modules in multiple languages provides technicians with an ongoing foundation of training. Accredited mentors also deliver hands-on instruction and assessments to ensure competency and consistency as technicians demonstrate skills and earn certification over a 27-month period.
“In an industry where so much is beyond a mines’ control, customers need the reliability of tyre management that draws on expertise and is consistently delivered to the highest standards,” said Allan. “We’re looking forward to continuing to serve our ESG-minded customers in even more meaningful ways—and make our work safer in every way possible while continuing to focus on maximising uptime and tyre investment.”