A Grip On The Future
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Bridgestone further improve service to customers
Bridgestone Corp., the world's largest tyre manufacturers, are planning to improve still further their performance to customers in the UK earthmoving market.
The quarry market, together with the opencast mining market, makes up the earthmover tyre sector which involves about 18,500 tyres a year. Bridgestone have over 70% of the opencast mining market and about half of the quarry market.
'We recognize that in the quarry sector the performance of our tyres is absolutely critical,' said Bridgestone’s Barry Coleman. 'But what also matters is not just the initial purchase price, but the after-sales support and advice given during the life of the tyre.
'That's why we have managers and engineers who are specifically dedicated to this business sector.'
Every six weeks customers are paid a visit by a Bridgestone engineer. They carry out a thorough examination of every tyre and report back to the operator with raw data on the performance of each tyre (ie wear rates and remaining tread depths).
'We have developed our own computer software program called TMS - Tyre Management System,' said Mr Coleman. 'Some of our competitors have started to copy our system, but while the software is clever we think what we do with it is even more important.
'That's why we make it available to our customers, free of charge, so they can feed in their own information and verify our figures.
'We know that our tyres give the lowest cost per hour, which is extremely important to our customers. By making our system available to them we ensure all our information is completely transparent.'
Other information available on TMS includes the history of the tyre, its projected life, its projected replacement time and its performance, such as hours per millimetre of tread. The average life of a giant earthmover tyre is around 5,500h.
'Customers want a product that will work for them all the time - they can't afford t o have breakdowns so they buy premium products and push them to the limit,' said Mr Coleman.
'Our philosophy is the same in all sectors. Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari pushes our tyres to the limit in Formula One racing, and operators in 100-tonne dumptrucks push our tyres to their technical design limits in the harshest operating conditions.'
He went on: 'When a customer buys a new machine we will help them with the specification of the tyre. We will inspect the tyre, the tracking of the machine, and ensure that the tyre pressures are correct.
'During the life of the product we will give advice on operating conditions and the most effective ways of getting best value from the tyre. For example, new tyres are normally fitted to the back axle that takes tremendous torque. We recommend the optimum time to switch them to the non-drive axle.'
Bridgestone constantly evaluate feedback from their customers and frequently improve their products by introducing new compounds into their tyres. One of the results has been recognition from OE manufacturers.
Terex, manufacturers of rigid and articulated dumptrucks up to 100 tonnes payload, have awarded Bridgestone their outstanding service supplier award. Bridgestone have also received the JCB supplier award 2001, the only tyre manufacturer to receive this accolade.
Volvo have recently selected Bridgestone as sole suppliers in the UK for their articulated dumptrucks which operate with payloads up to 40 tonnes. And JCB fit only Bridgestone 1000-20 FGF tyres on their production line to their 360? excavators.
Colin Murray, tyre controller of Crouch Mining, one of the largest opencast mining contractors in the UK, uses two types of Bridgestone tyre - the 3700R57 VZTS and the 2700R49 VMTP.
'We have 90 running wheels - that's six tyres on 15 machines with payloads up to 190 tonnes,' said Mr Murray. 'With a purchase price in excess of £10,000 you have to know precisely how the tyres are performing. Bridgestone have provided me with the software that allows me total control of their condition and state.
'It's a very important tool that adds to our good working relationship with Bridgestone.'
Bridgestone Tyre UK Ltd, Athena Drive, Tachbrook Park, Warwick CV34 6UK; tel: (01926) 488500; fax: (01926) 488600