LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – While most trucking fleet discussions talk about roads and highways, at Continental Tire, they’re thinking about ports and ships.
Paul Williams, Continental’s executive vice-president told reporters at a press conference, that shipping and intermodal practices make a difference in trucking equipment.
“What we expect and what we forecast is shipping volumes are going to double over the next 20 years. We already know we have the expansions going on in the Panama Canal and we’re going to see a lot larger vessels coming through. We need to prepare for that, so through our commercial specialty group we are really focusing on the OTR and on the port-side of business with a lot of new tires for those applications,” he said.
The company’s StraddleMaster, the TerminalMaster tire lines to specifically address the needs of truck and dock applications, but shipping, and the costs associated with it, are making Continental look at news business models.
“Shipping natural rubber out of Malaysia and Thailand is an expensive proposition, so that’s why we have a plant under construction in Germany looking to industrialize the process of taking dandelion and converting it to a rubber which we can use,” he said.
During his presentation, Williams fired off a list of announcements including:
A tire designed for fleets that have routes in both local, urban environments and over-the-road lanes.
“The requirements and the needs that come with urbanization are causing demands on the fleets to have tires that one day will be running around the city on regional routes and then tomorrow needing to do a long-haul across to the next large city. This requires tires that have the flexibility to do both regional and long-haul. So the concept of the hybrid tire. That’s what we’re launching as well. The Conti-Hybrid Hybrid HS3 tire.
“It is specifically engineered to allow the fleets not to have to keep switching tires just because the truck is running regional today and running long-haul tomorrow. It is a tire that suits all applications.
A related tire brought about to reduce the effects of rolling resistance.
“As rolling resistance increases, we need to be at the forefront of that technology. We believe we are. Today we also also launching the HS3 steer tire, which is our most fuel-efficient tire we have ever produced.”
“Today what we’re doing is we’re going to the next step with our automated trailer learning capabilities. If we know that fleets are always dropping and hooking, we need to be able to hook on a trailer and the truck automatically senses sensors on the trailers and recognizes if there is an air inflation problem. Ultimately my dream is in a few years we’ll be able to measure the tread depth. Once I can measure the tread depth of the tire, I’ll be able to do predictive run-outs. I’ll be able to work out exactly cost-per-mile. I’ll be able to mileage contracts. We’ll be able to do everything, and we’ll know exactly what is happening with that tire and its application,” he said.
“We also anticipate we’ll have the technology to be able to do wireless inspections and wireless Hours of Service regulations. We’re working on future technology that also senses the vehicle load, so not only will you not have to see those trucks lined up at every state line, having to go over the weigh bridge to make sure they’re not overweight, we should have the technology—we will have the technology—to be able to know load of the vehicle as it is running down the route.”
Expanded service offerings.
“With Conti TrukFix, our over-the-road service concept, we’re going to be adding mechanical break down services as well as the tire services. That will start during the second quarter.
“During the summer, we’ll be launching our Conti360 Fleet Services Web portal, which allows a fleet to log in and they’ll be able to pull reports on any vehicle inspections we’ve done in their yard, any service or repair that happened on the road. We’ll also have our Conti Lifecycle Casing Management System, and actually trace the casing all the way through the retread process. They’ll be able to look up their purchase history or tires.”
Customer service restructuring
“We’re launching a strategic account manager group, a team of specialists which will look after the largest fleets. They’re fully dedicated to that fleet with all Conti products.”
A new 19.5-inch tire for pick-up trucks used on construction sites, the Conti TerraPlus HD3.
“This is the first time we are offering an aggressive traction tire in the 19.5-inch, in the 225-70. It’s a really good looking tire. And it will enable us to have our fleets get out there into the constructions sites and reach every mile of the construction site and every mile of the country.
“We’ve also got them to develop and launch, towards the end of the second quarter during the summer months: a speciality winter tire as well for all our northern states and the Canadian market, as well as a fuel-efficient hybrid tire as well. By the end of third-quarter this year, we’ll have a complete portfolio for that 19.5-inch tire.
Also announced were changes to the company’s VDO RoadLog platform, with the addition of new options and services.
The new options are:
VDO RoadLog Connect which allows drivers to send log data directly to their home base via a smartphone with the new VDO RoadLog Connect Key, a WiFi enabled USB drive, and the VDO RoadLog Connect app.
VDO RoadLog ELD Plus which adds GSM cellular connectivity to the standard VDO RoadLog
VDO RoadLog Fleet Online which is fleet management and compliance software that allows one or more fleet managers to access data simultaneously via an Internet connection. This service has three versions: It is offered in three levels of service: VDO RoadLog Fleet Online Essentials, VDO RoadLog Fleet Online Compliance and VDO RoadLog Fleet Online Dispatch.