In early June, off-highway tire manufacturer Balkrishna Industries Ltd. (BKT) celebrated 10 years of its EARTHMAX tire lineup in Heraklion, Crete, Greece. At the event, BKT announced its objective to achieve a 10% market share in the all-steel radial segment of the global off-the-road (OTR) market by 2025.
“It will be challenging as always and we will master it as always,” said Joint Managing Director Rajiv Poddar. The company currently has a 6% market share, he added.
BKT first launched the EARTHMAX tire for loaders in 2018 and now has an extensive range of 25 all-steel radial OTR tires and plans to add even more, all produced at its Bhuj plant in India. Chairman and Managing Director of BKT Arvind Poddar described the start of EARTHMAX as a “milestone in BKT’s history.”
To continue to gain a larger percentage of the OTR tire market, the company will roll out 51-inch (in.) and 57-in. tires in the near future, said Poddar.
Dilip Vaidya, president and director of technology of BKT, said the 51-in. tire will be released to the market in the second quarter of 2019, with the 57-in. tire following in the second quarter of 2020.
Vaidya described 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 have reached a stage of advanced engineering,” Vaidya said.
He also touched on the changes in technology and what BKT is doing to continue to move forward on a global level.
BKT has entered into a joint research agreement with KULTEVAT Inc., a biotechnology company that specializes in the cultivation of TKS dandelion as a renewable and sustainable alternative to natural rubber, he added.
“We will develop new compounding methods to be integrated in the tire manufacturing process, and TKS rubber will gradually replace the use of natural rubber,” he said.
They expect to receive samples by October, with the supply of 1 metric ton of stabilized TKS rubber by October 2019, he added.
Another area they are focusing on is the use of nanomaterials or nanocomposites, which can provide enhanced performance, Vaidya said. Under this area, they have done research into graphene, which is wear and puncture resistant.
In addition to new technologies, BKT has set up its own carbon black manufacturing plant at the Bhuj plant site, which will begin production in the first quarter of 2019.
“Especially, with the focus on giant tires, large quantities of carbon black and a variety of specialty formulations to satisfy specific performance criteria are required,” Vaidya said.
As a carbon black manufacturer, BKT will be able to produce customized carbon black of non-ASTM grades that are not available on the market, he added.