Aussie manufacturing success story at Bandag

By: Cobey Bartels


Bridgestone Bandag 0085 A worker rolls and visually inspects tread straight off the press. Bridgestone Bandag 0085
Bridgestone Bandag 0081 Fresh tread rolls off the press, ready for inspection. Bridgestone Bandag 0081
Bridgestone Bandag 0180 A master technician checks a tyre visually before approving it for the re-tread process. Bridgestone Bandag 0180
Bridgestone Bandag 0366 Every batch of rubber is tested in the lab before being used to make re-treads. Bridgestone Bandag 0366
Bridgestone Bandag 0469 The shearography technology provides in-depth imaging of tyre internals. Bridgestone Bandag 0469
Bridgestone Bandag 0490 The re-tread being applied to the tyre casing. Bridgestone Bandag 0490
Bridgestone Bandag 0538 The retreat tyre being fitted with an air-tight envelope before being 'cured'. Bridgestone Bandag 0538

The manufacturing industry has taken a hit in recent years but not all are down and out, in fact some are thriving

 

Bridgestone-owned re-tread brand Bandag celebrated its 60th anniversary this year, a show of strength for manufacturing down under and a significant milestone for the company.

ATN spent some time at the Queensland factory recently to see how the Bandag re-tread products are made and fitted, as well checking out their environmental and efficiency efforts.

Bandag has managed to thrive despite the difficulties Australian manufacturing faces, through use of the latest technology and a stringent production process.

Since 2016, Bandag Manufacturing has been supplying re-tread materials to the Asian region out of this factory and expects further growth into the future.

An environmental focus has remained at the forefront of Bandag’s operations in Australia, aiming to achieve two goals; zero landfill waste and a self-sufficient water supply.

The Brisbane factory is fitted with water tanks around the premises and solar panels help run the offices, with talk of a solar farm in the years to come.

As for the factory floor itself, the process from raw product to re-tread and then the fitting of the tread itself is meticulously controlled for quality and consistency.

A standout was the shearography technology used, which essentially images the tyre to check the interlas for defects that may lead to failure.

This is the same concept as an x-ray to check for a broken bone and when the shearography technology was demonstrated during the factory tour, we were shown examples of defects that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.

The addition of shearography technology to the fitting process has eliminated a lot of the quality control issues traditionally associated with re-treads, giving customers the same sort of peace of mind you’d get from a new tyre.

A state-of-the-art slice matching builder has also been added to the Bandag factory, which applies tread to the tyre casing perfectly centred, before the tyre is cold-cured to ensure rubber breakdown caused by high heat is minimised.

Bridgestone boon

Despite all of this a portion of the industry still trusts new tyres more than re-treads, something Bridgestone Australia and New Zealand MD Andrew Moffatt says the company is aiming to change.

"There is still a negative sentiment towards re-treads in some sections of the market, which we are aiming to address by delivering high quality products and services that show Bandag re-treads are a safe, reliable cost-effective business solution," Moffatt says.

"We continue to invest in the Bandag business to further strengthen our re-tread performance – from improving wear life by leveraging the latest Bridgestone technologies, to advancements in the manufacturing process and the highest of quality control."

Aside from substantial cost savings associated with re-treads, a Bandag re-tread uses 26 litres of oil to manufacture, compared with the 83 litres used for a new truck tyre.

The company estimates that in the past 60 years, it’s saved up to 15 billion litres of oil and around 300 million tyres that would otherwise have wound up in landfill.

"The use of Bandag re-treads was a sustainable business practice before sustainability became a global priority and we continue to raise the bar today," Moffatt says.

"A brand is a promise, and our promise to the market with Bandag is Built for Better."

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