Nokian invests in heavy tire R&D

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Nokian Tyres says it has invested in a new test center for its heavy tires division, with added automation and capacity over its existing facilities. The company notes that, due to Covid-19 restrictions, many phases of the construction process have been managed remotely. “This kind of flexible problem-solving has been typical for the whole construction project, and it has kept us on schedule,” said development manager Matti Kaunisto. “Hats off to the whole team that made it possible!”

For the company’s engineers, the nearly 4,000m2  facility represents a considerable improvement both in terms of the volume of testing that can be undertaken and the quality of that testing. “For example, the drum testing capacity grew significantly,” noted R&D director Kalle Kaivonen. “The product development and OEM collaboration are much more efficient. Thanks to the added capacity, the earlier bottlenecks in testing have been eliminated. And there is plenty of room for future investments still. The new machinery enables us to gather more data and analyze it better, as the integration with the product development is more solid than before.”

Nokian says that the entire testing process, from installation to measurements and 3D scanning, from pressure testing to section cutting, has been optimized to provide quality data efficiently for different information needs. “Different kinds of tests and analysis can be ordered by a product development team, customer service or by a machine manufacturer, for example,” added Kaivonen. “We can provide them with an extremely broad range of different analysis and in-depth information.”

In the design of the test center, Nokian says that special attention was paid to the safe and ergonomic handling of the tires and wheels. “Everything is more clearly laid out now and on the same level,” Kaunisto added. “This makes the work safer and more comfortable – and has clearly boosted the spirits of the whole team.”

Besides product development, the tire testing facilities are used for manufacturing quality control and also for customer service. “On rare occasions there can be a tire failure, abnormal noise or some such problem in the field that needs to be thoroughly figured out,” noted Mikko Pukkila from Nokian Heavy Tyres’ technical customer service department. “In these cases, tires can be inspected and analyzed in the test center. The feedback from the field gives us important understanding of the tire lifecycle.”

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he oversees Automotive Powertrain Technology International and Professional Motorsport World magazines as editor.

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