Malaysia was once again the location for the Asian Retread Conference on October 2-3 as the Sime Darby Conference Centre in Kuala Lumpur played host to the second edition of this regional retreading event, organised by Asian Business Media (ABM), the India-based publisher of Tyre Asia and Rubber Asia.
Varied Programme at the Second Edition of ARC
The first ARC, held two years ago, was a well-attended event supported well by suppliers from the Malaysian and Indian retreading sectors in particular, but also by a number of key equipment suppliers from Europe. This year, as one might have expected, the organisers were faced with the issue of how to live up to a successful launch by re-creating an interesting and varied programme, and by building on the attendance achieved in the event’s first year.
This the organisers achieved only in part, for the attendance did appear to be slightly down on the first edition of the event. However, there is little doubt that Antony Powath and his team did manage to put together a schedule that featured a wide variety of speakers, presenting papers on a broad range of topics ranging from Marketing and Markets to Tyre Safety and Maintenance, from Rubber Technology to Equipment Innovations, and from Tyre Testing to Legislation.
Once again, the Conference was combined with a small exhibition. Exhibitors included Eversafe, Elgi, VMI, Cima, Marigo, Salvadori and Glisten.
The key dilemma now facing the organisers is how do they take the event to the next level? There is no doubt that the conference topics were good, the mini exhibition format worked well alongside the conference, and the networking opportunities were excellent. The organisers also appeared to have had some success in attracted attendees from other ASEAN markets such as Indonesia and Thailand.
However, if you are going to run a mini exhibition alongside a conference, you need to attract enough footfall to satisfy the exhibitors, especially if you are also looking to grow attendance at the conference sessions. However, the price tag to come to ARC 2018 as an attendee was USD 500, which is beyond what most retreaders are prepared to pay to attend a two-day conference.
The organisers will now need to look very carefully at how they attract enough attendees to make sure the event continues to thrive in the future. The attendance of the rank and file membership of some of the national trade associations like TRMAM (rather than just the senior members) will be crucial to the event’s future success.
There is no doubt, though, that ABM managed to attract support in high places, for the Opening Address was carried out by Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Transport, YB Dato’ Kamaruddin Jaffar, who gave an unequivocal message of support to the retreading industry by stating that “retreads are safe if standards are adhered to.” He also talked about the problem of rogue retreaders manufacturing outside the MS 224 Standard and proposed a system to identify sources of tread rubber on the road. To the satisfaction of those present, he also talked about the danger of new one-life tyres.
The Minister was followed on stage by Chin Hon Meng, the Chairman of TRMAM, who outlined the difficulties that the Malaysian retreading industry was facing, caused in part by the relaxing of tariffs on Chinese tyres. According to Chin, the Malaysian retread market had shrunk by as much as 47% since 2012 and was now only 1.3 million tyres. The market for new tyres, meanwhile, had risen from 0.78 to 2.13 million units over the same period, with most of the growth coming from cheap tier 3 and 4 tyres from China.
Other key speakers at the inaugural session included David Stevens from TRIB, Karun Sanghi from Tyresoles, representing the newly formed Tyre Retreading Education Association (TREA), and Dato’ Dr Zairossani Mohd Nor, Chairman of the Malaysian Rubber Board.
In addition to a number of speakers from the Malaysian Rubber Industry and Malaysian Road Safety and Law Enforcement bodies, there were also a number of international speakers presenting papers on a variety of marketing and technical topics. These included Chris Bloor from Giti, Dirk Reurslag from VMI, Jos Uijlenbroek from Ferm RFID and EV Krishnan from Elgi Rubber.