By Franco Annunziation :
Connected vehicles and connected tyres are a key focus area for many industries, including technology companies, vehicle manufacturers, transportation companies and tyre manufacturers. This space is dynamic and rapidly evolving and there are many potential applications of connected technology that can provide consumers and businesses with a range of value propositions and benefits. Bridgestone has a range of projects under way in an effort to understand and participate in this area and to become a solution provider in the various markets that we serve and compete in.
By the time the new technologies are becoming available in tyre sensing application, tyre + telematics systems definition, connectivity to destination through new concept product release, we introduce them in our new products to contribute to safety, customer’s environment management and cost optimization.
Regarding Industry 4.0, the pace of implementation may vary depending on the type of business. For Bridgestone, this new approach brings highly interesting opportunities in the areas of maintenance, logistics and productivity, including but not limited to, flexibility of the overall manufacturing process.
While we’re heading towards the Industry 4.0 concept, Bridgestone is already harvesting the contribution to productivity and quality that Industry 4.0’s individual technologies can bring.
Digitalisation is creating opportunities across two dimensions: Horizontal, which is the creation of solution business models that represent added value propositions to consumers and businesses by contributing towards the optimisation of the efficiency, quality and cost of their operation; and Vertical, the definition of customer value-based value chain solutions that develop the function scope (by function) necessary to best support the solution business models being developed. One prime example is Bridgestone’s B-tag system, an advanced tyre management tool, which delivers real-time measurement of both tyre pressure and temperature every five minutes. It also boasts of unparalleled sensor reliability proven by extensive testing in extreme climatic environments.
With this advanced system, the vehicle operator can drive while accessing information on running tyres, and simultaneously, maintenance staff can monitor tyre pressure remotely. Early warning of a drop in tyre pressure or a rise in temperature can avert possible tyre damage and potential danger, ensuring a safer working environment.
Another example is Bridgestone’s ability to customize a package of products as a solution to support a customer’s operations. For example, in mining, Bridgestone is able to provide not only off-the-road tyres to support the large mining vehicles, but also conveyor belts and tyre pressure monitoring systems. In totality, this package of products not only supports the customer’s operations, but have real-time monitoring technology to determine when maintenance or replacements are required, ensuring less interruptions, higher operational efficiency and greater return on investment.
We are working on the whole spectrum of tyre categories, from bicycles to off-the-road, aircraft, passenger, commercial and agricultural vehicle tyres. Innovative solutions are continuously being developed and introduced into the new products that are being released by Bridgestone with the intention to meet and exceed customers and businesses’ expectations by creating added value. Some examples of such new releases are:-
Air Free Concept Bicycle Tyre: Through advanced technologies and testing, Bridgestone has recently developed non-pneumatic tyres for bicycles – a technology for creating tyres that do not need to be inflated with air. The Air Free Concept supports the weight of the bike through a unique structure of resin spokes that stretch along the inner side of the tyres. The Air Free Concept develops bicycle tyres that cannot be punctured. In addition, the flexibility of resins has now opened up several concepts for bicycle design that impacts eco-mobility and promotes a more sustainable environment for the community through more efficient use of resources. We will advance feasibility studies seeking to make this new tyre available in the market by 2019.
Passenger Car Tyre – Next Generation ECOPIA: We are investing in and developing the ECOPIA EP300 progressively in Asia Pacific markets. ECOPIA EP300 provides low rolling resistance and higher safety through improved wet grip and wear life. Optimised for medium sedans, EP300 encapsulates the needs of a green-minded user and is environmentally driven. Its key features include greater fuel efficiency, enhanced wet grip and extended wear life, to achieve significant fuel savings.
Through the innovative design concept and engineering solutions adopted in itsdevelopment, EP300 revolutionises and redefines the concept of an eco-tyre. In fact, our goal as a global tyre manufacturer is to safe-keep the environment for future generations and we hope to strengthen our efforts in innovation in order to meet this objective with ECOPIA and other tyre products offered by Bridgestone.
Sensor Technology – CAIS: Contact Area Information Sensing (CAIS) is a tyre sensing technology that collects and evaluates road surface conditions in real-time through sensors located within the tyres. The new technology utilizes sensors attached to the inside of tyres to obtain information on changes in tread condition during normal driving. By analysing this information, the technology provides the driver with real-time monitoring of tyre/asphalt contact conditions.
CAIS will allow the driver to be better prepared for rapid changes in dangerous driving conditions, such as ice, snow and rain by providing immediate road surface information to enhance safety. By bringing this technology to practical application, Bridgestone hopes to help customers cut costs while also delivering peace of mind.
Commercial Vehicles – Tirematics for better fleet management: With Bridgestone’s Tirematics fleet solution, it is possible to interpret tyre information while on the road and in real-time, with a high degree of accuracy. When abnormal air pressures or temperatures are detected, the system will inform the service manager and the driver via an alert. This will make it possible to prevent unexpected operation problems or major delays caused by tyre failures.
By monitoring tyre information remotely, it is not necessary to manually checktyre pressures, which can make tyre maintenance more efficient and effective. This should, in turn, allow for tyres to be used for a longer time and in the best performing condition, reducing the number of tyres to be replaced. In addition, the Tirematics fleet solution can contribute to the reduction of operating costs such as fuel and tyre related expenses for fleet customers, and help fleet customers achieve a more efficient operation.
Off-The-Road Mining Technology: Bridgestone has made significant investments in technology and training to ensure that we are producing the world’s leading off-road radial tyres. We remain highly committed to our mining customers around the globe and will continue to make the right investments for this important segment of our business.
As mentioned earlier, Bridgestone’s B-tag system, an advanced tyre management tool, delivers real-time measurement of both tyre pressure and temperature every five minutes. It also boasts of unparalleled sensor reliability proven by extensive testing in extreme climatic environments.
With this advanced system, the vehicle operator can drive while accessing information on running tires, and simultaneously, maintenance staff can monitor tyre pressure remotely. Early warning of a drop in tyre pressure or a rise in temperature can avert possible tyre damage and potential danger, ensuring a safer working environment.
Aircraft Tyres: In December 2016, Bridgestone announced the construction of two new manufacturing plants in Thailand. One plant will produce new aircraft tyres, while the second plant will produce retread aircraft tyres. The total investment will be approximately JPY15.0 billion (USD 150 million) and both of them are scheduled to begin production in December 2019.
The Bridgestone Group’s aircraft tyre solutions business combine products, such as new and retread tyres, with services to deliver solutions for the issues faced by both aircraft manufacturers and airlines. Bridgestone leverages its strengths of new, retread tyres and service networks and will continue to work together with aircraft manufacturers and airlines to create new value that ensures safe and secure aircraft operation.
On March 29, 2017, Bridgestone Corporation unveiled a refined global corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitment to ‘Our Way to Serve,’ centred around three priority areas:Mobility, People, and Environment.
Through innovative technology, Bridgestone is committed to providing easier, safer, smoother and more seamless mobility for their customers. Building on the enthusiasm of its employees to connect people worldwide, the company is also focused on building safer and healthier communities, and improving access to education.
With regards to environment, Bridgestone continues to work towards a sustainable society by operating in harmony with nature, valuing natural resources and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Conducting business in more than 150 countries, Bridgestone always operates in full transparency and in compliance with local regulations and political guidelines in order to best contribute to the creation of safer, healthier and more sustainable communities