Making professional tire use safer and more efficient sets high demands on product development. To bring new ideas to the market faster, testing has an important role. Nokian Tyres has invested heavily on a new, state-of-the-art test center for Nokian Heavy Tyres, upgrading the testing capabilities to a whole new level with added automation and capacity. Despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the magic is already happening in the new building – enabling us to introduce more and better new heavy tires.
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. Hats off for the whole team that made it possible!”, says Development Manager Matti Kaunistofrom Nokian Heavy Tyres.
No substitute for testing
In the tire product development process, testing is essential as it proves (or disproves) the design calculations and gives important data back to designers. That’s why the new, nearly 4000 m2 facility is a vast improvement both in terms of testing quantity and quality.
“For example, the drum testing capacity grew significantly” says R&D Director Kalle Kaivonen from Nokian Heavy Tyres. “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!”
Another important factor is testing quality. “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”, Kaivonen says.
Testing by order
The purpose of the facility is to provide answers. The whole testing process from installation to measurements and 3D scanning, from pressure testing to section-cutting is 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”, says Kaivonen. “We can provide them with extremely broad range of different analysis and in-depth information.”
Ergonomics and pride
In work ergonomics, the transformation from old premises to purpose-built facility is massive. In the design of the new test center, special attention was paid to the safe and ergonomic handling of the tires and wheels. “Everything is more clearly laid out now and on a same level”, Matti Kaunisto says. “This makes the work safer and more comfortable – and has clearly boosted the spirits of the whole team.”
Speaking of work safety, the process where the tire segments are scanned with a high-resolution scanner and transferred digitally fits well together with today’s social distancing requirements. “The tire cross section data moves between the testing and R&D teams digitally, without the need of any physical contact!”, Matti Kaunisto grins.
Not just new tires
Besides product development, the tire testing facilities are needed for manufacturing quality control – but also for customer service.
“In a rare occasion, there can be a tire failure, abnormal noise or some such problem in the field that needs to be thoroughly figured out”, says Mikko Pukkila from Nokian Heavy Tyres’ technical customer service. “In these cases, tires can be inspected and analyzed in test center. The feedback from the field gives us important understanding of the tire life cycle.”
A building full of Hakkapeliitta spirit
Sometimes, the Nokian Tyres way of doing things is referred to as “The Hakkapeliitta spirit”. It sums up the spirit of innovation and the resourcefulness a specialized manufacturer has, and the new building depicts it well – from its smart engineering down to the self-cleaning, energy-conserving windows. What’s more, the center also lives up to company values of working safety, sustainability and peace of mind.
“There’s hardly any waste that isn’t recycled”, says R&D Director Kalle Kaivonen. “Also the heat generated by the test equipment is gathered for heating the facility, and more heat is generated by the local biofuel plant.”
The biggest investment in the history of Nokian Heavy Tyres
In 2018, Nokian Heavy Tyres announced a massive undertaking: to increase the production of commercial tires up to 50 percent and more than double the number of new products by investing heavily on production and product development. The total investment will be approximately EUR 70 million.
Watch video: Nokian Heavy Tyres Research and Development Center