Up to 620,000 truck and bus tyres based on high-quality carcasses from Michelin are retreaded in the modern production facility in the Saarland. Christina Guth, coordinator for the AZuR network, thinks that the plant is a proof that “retreading commercial tyres stands for a promising future-oriented concept that will pay off not only economically but also ecologically and socially“.
Professional retreading of high-quality carcasses will double the service life of tyres. According to Michelin, retreaded truck tyres of the brand Remix are on average one third cheaper than comparable new tyres – with similar quality, safety, and mileage. Moreover, considerable quantities of energy, raw materials, and CO2 emissions are saved in production. Thus, retreaded truck tyres are the perfect solution for fleets of vehicles wanting to reduce operating costs and their ecological footprint.
The plant in Homburg with about 400 employees plays a key role in retreading truck tyres in Europe. In spite of high energy costs in the German market, the location has remained competitive because of the use of cogeneration of heat and electricity, thermal power stations and a Konditherm plant, which refeeds waste heat as energy into the production circle.
During a tour of the plant, the AZuR delegation paid a visit to all the important production processes. First of all, each Michelin carcass goes through a thorough inspection in Homburg – with shearography, x-ray technology, and a visual check. Only carcasses meeting the high-quality standards are selected for retreading. At the moment, up to 90 per cent of Michelin’s truck tyre carcasses that are delivered for retreading meet the standards of the incoming tests.
During the retreading process, tread and side parts of the core tyre get milled off. Then, the new rubber substance is added and molten under heat and pressure in a vulcanizing process. Fabrice Koeppel, the person responsible for truck tyre retreading at Michelin in Homburg, highlights that “retreaded Remix tyres are produced based on construction data for a new tyre.” As a consequence, mileage of a tyre is increased tremendously due to retreading. Michelin’s truck tyres that are produced and recut according to the high Remix quality standards have a mileage, which is 150 per cent higher. Furthermore, the plant in Homburg makes it possible to retread broader tyres.
On behalf of the AZuR delegation, Christina Guth thanked for getting that many interesting insights into the individual steps of sustainable retreading. “It is very noticeable that Michelin has the highest requirements for both its new tyres and also for its retreaded ones, while paying special attention to sustainability at the same time.” After the tour of the plant, a lively discussion took place about how the retreading ratio in Germany and Europe could be increased in the next years.
All the participants were of the opinion that the carcasses would play a crucial role. The ability of a used tyre to get retreaded extremely depends on the quality of the carcass. At the moment, Michelin only uses its own carcasses for retreading in order to meet the high requirements. From the start, Michelin’s truck tyres are designed in a way that would generally provide them with several lives and would make them ready for retreading at least once. According to Christina Guth “other tyre manufacturers should take this into consideration in order to be able to increase the ratio of retreading for passenger car tyres in Europe too.”