Technology typically evolves at a rate that society can accept. In some cases, great ideas are ahead of their time so they fail at inception only to see the same basic concepts reborn years later with great success. There are no formulas that predict when or if new technology will succeed. A small number of companies are willing to accept the risks that come with innovation, while the majority are more comfortable with letting their competitors overcome the growing pains before jumping in.
It’s been years since tire manufacturers have raised prices, so the recent announcements of 7-8% increases across the board caught most people by surprise. As usual, the justification was linked to an increase in the cost of raw materials and other factors like transportation. I’ve used the Chaos Theory several times to explain why natural rubber (NR) production is the key to understanding tire prices, and it appears that the butterfly has flapped its wings in Thailand to set off the tornado in North America.
It’s been a while since I taught a class on truck tire and wheel service to fleet technicians. Most of my time is spent in the office or in meetings, so getting out in the field to teach is a welcome break from the normal grind.
Last summer, I met an executive with a state trucking association at a training program for nonprofits. Being the only two people in the room who represented “blue collar” industries, we naturally hit it off—and it eventually led to a pilot training program for members of the association.
If you ask 50 tire experts to name the most important part of a tubeless radial truck tire assembly, you will probably get a number of different answers. Some will point to different aspects of design or materials in the single-piece rim because that eliminated side and lock rings thereby saving the lives of technicians who serviced the assemblies. Others might focus on the 15-deg. bead taper of the tire or advances related to innerliner technology that resulted in the dominance of tubeless tires in the market.