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TIA will showcase training at its 60th OTR conference

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TIA will showcase training at its 60th OTR conference

Sixty years ago, no one was producing a 63-inch giant OTR tire, much less retreading one. Today, 63-inch tires are in demand all over the world. And a number of companies, including Purcell Tire & Rubber Co. in Potosi, Mo., are profitably selling, retreading and/or repairing them.

What will be trending 60 years from now is anyone’s guess. But questions about the present and near future will be answered at the 60th annual Off-the-Road Tire Conference. Sponsored by the Tire Industry Association (TIA), the 2015 conference will be held in Tucson, Ariz., Feb. 18-21.

On the opening day of the event, TIA will introduce its Certified Earthmover Tire Service (ETS) training program. Kevin Rohlwing, senior vice president of training, will explain the following:

  • the basic criteria for instructor and technician certification, which follows the same “train-the-trainer” format as its commercial, farm and consumer tire training programs;
  • the curriculum for the new 300-Level and 400-Level ETS programs.

There also will be an educational session on the status of the Highway Trust Fund, which TIA says cannot possibly keep up with infrastructure improvements that are necessary for the highways and bridges in the U.S.

“Since road and bridge construction will have a direct impact on the OTR tire and retread businesses, the industry must be aware of the proposed funding mechanisms and the areas where these funds will be spent,” says Roy Littlefield, TIA’s executive director.

Past and future OTR tire shipment data will be shared with attendees on the second day of the conference (spoiler alert: Estimated replacement and original equipment numbers in 2014 compared to 2013 were up more than expected).

OTR tire retreading

On the final day of the conference, retreading takes center stage. “Advances in Retread Technology” panel members will share information on the latest technology, equipment and tools available to OTR tire retreaders.

There also will be a session on what OTR dealers and retreaders should look for in a tire tracking system. “From the major mining companies to the local quarries, OTR tire users are becoming more sophisticated in how they manage their tires,” says Littlefield. “They want to track the performance of the tires they have so they can accurately project when they will need replacements to manage their inventory.”

There will even be an anniversary panel made up of dealers who have been attending the show for decades. They will share their thoughts and memories on how the conference and the industry have changed over the years.

Predicting the future

Purcell Tire Chairman Bob Purcell has been attending the conference since the late 1950s. He says in the early days, 63-inch tires were unheard of. “There was no OTR tire even close to that — 39-inch was just about the biggest. Some loader and scraper tires were up to 39 inches. “

He doesn’t see anyone producing a non-low profile tire larger than 63 inches. “I think they will find a better way to put more tires on larger pieces of equipment.”

In 1960, OTR tire retreader Vernon Sanders publicly offered up this prediction: “Within two years, we will be accomplishing things that we now consider technologically impossible.” That same year, the industry consumed 482.6 million pounds of tread rubber, more than four times the amount just 13 years prior.

W.A. Boddy, manager of tread rubber sales for the Pennsylvania Tire Co., referred to Sanders’ prediction at the 1961 OTR conference. “I regard this as one of the most apropos statements that I have ever read describing the growth of retreading,” he said.

The same prediction is just as apropos today about OTR retreading and OTR tires.

Modern Tire Dealer will be in Tucson to report on the conference, both online at www.moderntiredealer.com and in our March issue.   ■

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