Even with a team of 25 engineers and $2 million worth of tire testing equipment in place, there is a lot of space to fill at Kenda Rubber Industrial Co.’s new technology center in Green, Ohio. Tom Williams, Kenda's vice president of engineering, plans more engineers and more equipment for the 50,000-square-foot facility.
Kenda gave more than 50 of its distributors and dealers a look at the developmental and testing equipment installed at its North American Technical Center (KATC) near Akron at an open house on June 20, 2016. Kenda officially opened the KATC, which is developing products for American markets, in November 2015.
The equipment and proprietary technology there already is improving product quality, reducing development cycles, and creating opportunities to innovate, according to the company. Kenda demonstrated new equipment and engineering tools, including a high speed uniformity/rolling resistance test machine and compound laboratories.
“If you compare us to a company that basically looks at somebody else’s design and tries to copy what it looks like and bring it to market, it doesn’t take them very long to develop a tire. You may have a tire that looks exactly like another tire, that doesn’t mean it performs exactly like another tire. We don’t do that. Kenda is not about copying. We’re developing our own product. And we develop that product to perform comparable to anybody else in the industry,” Williams told MTD.
Two new products introduced by Kenda in 2016 were used as demonstration examples by the KATC team: the new Klever H/T2 highway light truck tire and the Klever S/T with expanded CUV/SUV sizing. The KATC engineering team walked dealers and distributors through stations to view Kenda’s proprietary in-house development tire engineering software, as well as the new machines.
“All of the tools and investments which Kenda is developing will assist us to launch products faster for the Americas that will meet the aggressive business goals set by the corporation. Our proprietary design tools will accelerate our ability to offer cost-effective products to the aftermarket and original equipment markets,” says Williams.
The KATC is Kenda’s third technical center. The company also has centers in Yuanlin, Taiwan, and Kunshan, China.
Kenda is making significant progress with its global capital investments, according to Jimmy Yang, vice chairman of Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. and president of American Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd., which does business as Kenda USA.
“Kenda recently broke ground for a new warehouse in Taiwan to allow us to expand our Yun Lin production footprint in addition to the previously announced new Vietnam facility, which plans to product automotive products in late 2017,” says Yang. “Our KATC facility is accelerating design projects which will be produced at both plants for the American markets.”
Investment in tire development equipment is ongoing, according to Williams, who says the company is targeting up to 70 engineers for the KATC depending on “how the market grows.” The KATC is focusing on passenger and LT tires for now but “anything Kenda makes is fair game." Kenda also makes products for the lawn and garden, ATV and UTV, golf cart, trailer and bicycle markets.
Founded in 1962, Kenda has 11,000 employees among its operations in Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, United States and Germany. Kenda USA is headquartered in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
For more information on Kenda and its products, visit www.kendatire.com.