Looks like Michelin is trying to reinvent the wheel and then mass produce it. Well, the tyre manufacturer’s latest production facility will be solely dedicated towards making its new airless radial tyres. Christened the Tweel, this tyre combines the tyre and wheel assembly into one solid unit and takes the all-important air out of the equation.
The components of the Tweel that remain common with the conventional tyre are the rigid hub at the centre and the shear beam â but the difference lies in the method in which these two components are connected. Where regular wheels use metal or alloy spokes, the airless radial tyre employs polyurethane as material, which is âflexible and deformable.â
The highlight of the non-pneumatic technology is, of course, the fact that the Tweel can never go flat. As Ralph Dimenna, head of Michelin Tweel Technologies puts it, âThe Tweel airless radial tyre enables Michelin to enter new markets and expand its reach in existing business segments within the low-speed application category. The industry is hungry for solutions contributing to productivity, safety and bottom lines. Serving our customers is at the centre of our strategy for success.â
The idea conceptualised by the companyâs research engineers over the last decade will now be produced commercially for the first time at the new 1.35 lakh square-foot facility, set up in the Greenville area, South Carolina, USA.
MICHELIN OPENS WORLDâS FIRST MANUFACTURING PLANT TO BUILD REVOLUTIONARY AIRLESS RADIAL TIRE
|Michelin has opened its newest plant in North America, which will produce the innovative MICHELINÂŽ XÂŽ TWEELÂŽ Airless Radial Tireâ˘ for commercial applications.
An idea first conceived by Michelin research engineers in the United States, the TWEEL is a revolutionary non-pneumatic tire that changed the configuration of a conventional tire, bringing together the tire and the wheel assembly into one solid unit. The TWEEL comprises a rigid hub connected to a shear beam by means of flexible, deformable polyurethane spokes, all functioning as a single unit.
Unlike conventional tires, the TWEEL has no air, thereby solving what had seemed to be the unavoidable challenge of chronic flat tires that plagues the landscape, construction, contracting, refuse/recycling and agricultural industries.
âThe TWEEL being built here in South Carolina is yet another dramatic example of Michelinâs long-standing commitment to breakthrough innovation,â said Pete Selleck, Michelin North America chairman and president. âThe TWEEL concept was born at Michelin Americas Research Company in Greenville, S.C., one of Michelinâs three global technology centers, and now the Tweel will be manufactured right here in the Greenville area to satisfy a growing commercial market.â
The new plant gives Michelin the ability to boost output of its award-winning MICHELINÂŽ XÂŽ TWEELÂŽ SSL skid-steer tires and begin production of the new MICHELINÂŽ XÂŽ TWEELÂŽ TURFTM as original equipment for John Deere to equip its ZTRAKTM 900 Series line-up of zero-turn commercial mowers.
âDifferentiating us from competitors, the TWEEL airless radial tire is the industryâs first commercialized airless radial solution and verifies Michelinâs leadership for the next generation of mobility,â said Ralph Dimenna, head of Michelin Tweel Technologies. âThe TWEEL airless radial tire enables Michelin to enter new markets and expand its reach in existing business segments within the low-speed application category. The industry is hungry for solutions contributing to productivity, safety and bottom lines. Serving our customers is at the center of our strategy for success.â
The new 135,000 square-foot facility in Piedmont, S.C., represents Michelinâs 10th manufacturing facility in South Carolina and the 16th in the U.S. The company will invest about $50 million in the new plant.