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Tire Technology International Awards announce this year’s winners

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The Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence announced this year’s winners at a ceremony during the Tire Technology Expo 2019 at the Deutsche Messe, Hannover, Germany.

Tire Manufacturing Innovation of the Year – HF Group – TBM One
Environmental Achievement of the Year – Bridgestone – HSR
Tire Technology of the Year – SRI – Sensing Core
Tire Industry Supplier of the Year – Test World (Millbrook)
Tire Manufacturer of the Year – Michelin
Young Scientist Prize – Chidambaram Subramanian
Lifetime Achievement Award – Rudi Hein

The 2019 Tire Manufacturing Innovation of the Year award went to HF Group for the TBM One, the company’s multiple-types tire building machine (TBM). It is the only TBM in the market that provides the flexibility to produce tires with inflated or flat turn-up, as well as standard tire designs such as SOT/TOS, wide BP turn-up and ply up/down constructions. “HF Group has systematically improved the quality and flexibility of their TBMs,” says judge Romain Hansen, director of global tire performance science, Goodyear. “The newest generation responds very well to a trend in the tire industry of lower batch sizes and increasing numbers of stock-keeping units. It helps to manage the increasing complexity in the industry.”

The recipient of the Environmental Achievement of the Year award was Bridgestone for its newly developed HSR (High-Strength Rubber) polymer, the world’s first polymer to bond rubber and resins at a molecular level. “This high-strength rubber is the result of decades of in-depth R&D at the molecular level,” says judge Patrick De Keyzer, managing partner at DeKeP. “This new polymer will drastically reduce the consumption of raw materials and energy.” Toshio Nishi, emeritus professor at University of Tokyo and Tokyo Institute of Technology, adds, “This is a new approach to high-strength rubber, and will be extremely useful in the future.”

The Tire Technology of the Year was awarded to SRI for its Sensing Core development. This cutting-edge technology can detect road conditions, tire load and other information without the use of direct sensors. Judge Gert Heinrich, senior professor at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering/Institute of Textile Machinery and Textile High Performance Materials Technology, Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research, says, “Sensing Core is a technology that not only contributes to greater safety for drivers and passengers, but will also play a role in the rapid advancement of autonomous vehicle technology in the near future.”

The Tire Industry Supplier of the Year award went to Test World for its all-year-round tire and vehicle winter testing facility. Opening in 2012, it was the world’s first indoor winter tire test facility offering snow and ice traction and braking, with snow handling added in 2015. “Test World is the first to offer the possibility of testing in all adherence conditions, from ice to dry, at the same location, 365 days a year,” says judge Jean-Claude Fauré, R&D executive fellow, passenger car and light truck tire at Michelin. “This multi-service offer is welcome because the issues of efficiency and quality are enormous.”

This year’s Tire Manufacturer of the Year was awarded to Michelin for, among many things, the company’s environmental initiatives over the past 12 months. Michelin is one of the few tire OEs to commit to 2048 sustainability targets, and its many product innovations include RF-free resin, for which the company spent nine years and 35 patents researching and developing replacement chemicals. “Michelin has been driving the market with innovations and sustainability concepts for years,” says judge Klaus Baltruschat, tire expert for TÜV Süd. “Their environmental initiatives such as micronised rubber powder and clever tread pattern design that still delivers good performance even when close to being worn out, are just a few examples that can be cited here.”

This year’s Young Scientist Prize was awarded to Chidambaram Subramanian, a graduate research assistant at the Centre for Tire Research, Virginia Tech, USA for his research paper on road surface classification using intelligent tires. Mark Fenner, conference director for Tire Technology Expo said, ‘Chidambaram’s work on intelligent tires, vehicle dynamics and race vehicle simulations could potentially increase the safety of autonomous vehicles and promote the future growth of AV technology.’

The final award of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement Award, which this year was presented to Rudi Hein. He was recognized for his 32-year career in special project teams at BMW, in particular his work on runflat tire systems, and the decade spent with Bridgestone as executive advisor standards and regulations.

The Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence are recognised as the industry’s top accolades, and aim to celebrate the very best new technologies and innovations from all over the world. The awards are judged by a fully independent, international panel of journalists and industry experts, and take place during Tire Technology Expo, Europe’s most important tire design manufacturing and technology exhibition and conference.

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