THROUGHOUT its history, Kal Tire has demonstrated a pioneer mentality, always looking for new and better ways to provide superior service. Kal Tire has taken this one step further by opening an Innovation Centre in Canada to harness its decades of experience and develop solutions that improve efficiency, productivity and safety.
“Over the last two years we have instead heavily in innovation, including the Innovation Centre,” says Kal Tire director, communications Tracy Cobb-Reeves.
|Kal Tire’s Ultra Repair™ technology extends the life of mining tyres by repairing injuries.|
“Kal Tire team members around the world are encouraged to contribute innovation because they are in the field probably knowing a better way that something can be done. At the Innovation Centre there is a group of people who sift through them and decide which ones are most viable.
“The elements we are introducing clearly define the financial, safety and efficiency benefits. The innovations don’t need to be elaborate, some are logical and simple but they make the work of our people safer and more efficient, which also benefits clients.”
Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group senior vice president Dan Allan said, “It’s about improving the tools we use and the way we work. We listen to what customers are trying to achieve and find a way to help them get there. Whether it’s new technology, new products and services or new cost models - innovation is core to the value we bring to any mining operation.”
Ultra Repair™ reclaims tyre life
Every year, mine sites around the world send hundreds of ultra-class tyres with large injuries to the scrap pile. Now, they don’t have to thanks to Kal Tire’s Ultra Repair™ technology that provides like new performance in even the most challenging environments, including Australia.
Near the heart of the Hunter Valley coalfields in Muswellbrook, New South Wales, tyre technicians are busy repairing injuries once thought impossible to fix on some of mining’s biggest tyres. This Kal Tire repair facility, and its counterpart in Kewdale, Perth, carry out standard repairs using conventional methods.
They’re both also leading practitioners of Ultra Repair - an innovation that uses a proprietary patch to replace damaged cables along with a unique installation technology to extend the life of mining tyres by potentially thousands of hours.
Once ready for the market, it didn’t take long for Ultra Repair to make its way to Australia and other countries where Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group has a presence. Developing the game-changing technology, however, took an enormous investment in resources and time.
Nearly 15 years ago, in the centre of the coal mine industry in BC, Canada, Kal Tire recognised the limitations of traditional earthmover tyre repairs, and began researching a process that could do more and solve one of a mine operator’s most expensive tyre problems.
“We wanted to develop the materials and procedure to perform larger and stronger repairs,” says Kal Tire Australia managing director Darren Flint. “Today, we have the capability to repair not only large injuries, but also those in areas that were previously impossible to repair.”
In 2014, Kal Tire launched Ultra Repair. Where traditional patches for ultra-class tyres risked bulging, lasted just a short time and only suited smaller injuries and certain locations, like the tread, Ultra Repair expanded possibilities and ticked every box.
Kal Tire’s technology and process is effective on large injuries and across the tyre, including the shoulder or sidewall. Even more, Ultra Repair restores an ultra-class tyre’s original strength and integrity, giving it like-new performance.
Gravity Assist System
At MINExpo in Las Vegas in 2016, Kal Tire unveiled a simple prototype version of a mechanical tool that would safely and weightlessly manoeuvre the 60-pound torque guns used to fasten lug nuts on earthmover tyres. A year later, Kal Tire’s patented, next generation version of the Gravity Assist System was presented at AIMEX in Australia.
It’s two times the size and four times the weight of the prototype, and is capable of performing its intended job in the field. Instead of fastening nearly 70 lug nuts by holding an enormous torque gun, the Gravity Assist System acts like a mechanical arm to hold and swivel the torque gun almost as a weightless extension of a technician’s body.
Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group innovation, research and development manager Peter Nilsson says, “In mining, injuries and incidents often come from operating torque tools, so the focus for us was, how can we do this operation more safely to reduce injuries and make it easier for these guys to do their job?”
Peter Nilsson had the idea shortly after joining Kal Tire and was amazed by how heavy, bulky and difficult the torque guns were. “I thought, there must be a better way to operate and handle these torque tools. We need to create something to support them, and make this operation safer and improve performance.”
The Gravity Assist System was developed out of the Mining Tire Group’s Innovation Centre just like a handful of other tools designed and engineered there to improve safety and productivity, including a tyre deflator tool, ram mount tools and service trollies.