Nokian Tyres plc is building a research and development center focused on heavy commercial tires at its headquarters in Nokia, Finland. It's the company's second major investment in the heavy tire segment in the past year. “In the entire history of Nokian Tyres, this is the most remarkable investment in the product development of heavy tires”, says Nokian Research and Development Manager Kalle Kaivonen.
Nokian says the center will encompass more than 37,000 square feet, and it will accelerate the testing phase of new tire models. It comes alongside an expansion in tire capacity. In December 2017 Nokian began a three-year project to increase heavy tire production capacity by 60% — from 44 million pounds to 70.5 million pounds.
In all, Nokian is investing about 70 million euros — more than $83 million — in its heavy tire business unit, Nokian Heavy Tyres Ltd.
“Everything is well on schedule. The first stage of production plant expansion is complete, and the second part will be ready in April 2019. In Summer 2019 we will start the installation of new machinery”, says Nokian Heavy Tyres Plant Director Pasi Antinmaa.
The R&D center will consolidate tests that previously had been done in multiple locations, which Nokian says will increase efficiency. The indoor testing will all take place under the same roof, and near production lines.
“The center will be filled with modern machinery”, says Matti Kaunisto, Nokian's development manager for heavy tires. “We can triple the number of tires tested and test more variables to serve our OEM clients with the highest standards.”
For Nokian Tyres it is a priority to make the entire lifecycle of the tire ecological. The company also will have the capability to study innovations in the farm and forestry industries, and focus on how its tires need to work in conjunction with those new systems.
New innovations will enable the development of groundbreaking future solutions. For instance, to move safely and predictably without driver’s experience and evaluation, the steering system of an unmanned vehicle sets higher demands on the tires.
“Unmanned tractors will be working among us in the future, and those machines need premium tires as well as comprehensive data of those tires to make steering safe and accurate,” says Kaunisto.
Watch Nokian's video about the project: