Tire Technology Expo 2018

Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence 2016


The jury has returned its verdict, the votes have been counted, and the winners have been announced!

For the eighth time, the presentation of the Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence – the world’s biggest celebration of endeavour in the field of tire development and manufacturing – has been made in Tire Technology Expo’s new home of Hannover, Germany. Trophies were presented in five main categories during a gala dinner at the Hannover Congress Centrum, with the winners chosen by an independent, international panel of 27 tire industry experts (see below).

The awards are coordinated by Tire Technology International magazine, which is published by UKI Media & Events, the organiser of Tire Technology Expo. The full list of winners is below – click on each one for more information!

The Winners

Tire Manufacturing Innovation of the Year - 5THR tangential mixer rotor – Kobe Steel
In recognition of scientific and technological excellence in tire manufacturing
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Tire Manufacturing Innovation of the Year

In recognition of scientific and technological excellence in tire manufacturing

Winner: 5THR tangential mixer rotor – Kobe Steel

Kobe Steel’s 5THR rotor means that existing tangential mixers can now produce silica-rich compounds – normally the preserve of intermeshing mixers that require more space and greater investment. Moreover, the 5THR is said to distribute coupling agents more uniformly in the batch than intermeshing rotors. Our judges recognised that the winning technology, which edged the Numetrix sidewall inspection unit into second place, will enable the conversion of existing mixer bodies to silica mixing, providing gains in productivity and tire performance.

“The 5THR is our special tangential rotor, aimed at improving the quality and productivity of silica-rich compounds,” explained Yasuaki Yamane, deputy general manager of Kobe Steel’s machinery business. “It not only retains the advantages of a tangential rotor’s intake and discharge performance, but also has hybrid advantages, such as a similar level of high-energy input and surface area as intermesh rotors.

“It took over six years to verify this rotor’s performances with lab equipment, computer simulation and production-size machines. This technology is already being operated with production machines, and it has been meeting its performance targets.”

“Efficient incorporation of silica into the tread compound is a very complex process,” noted awards judge Dr Seshu Bhagavathula, chief technology officer for Apollo Tyres. “The invention of this new rotor for high-silica mixing looks to be a great step forward as it will help achieve better outcomes in hardness, specific energy and productivity, as well as low rolling resistance.”

Also shortlisted:
Dream Factory extension – Cimcorp
Slash calender – KraussMaffei Berstorff
Tire Sidewall Inspection Unit – Numetrix


Environmental Achievement of the Year - AquaJet's water jet rubber recycling technology
In recognition of environmental advances in the tire industry
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Environmental Achievement of the Year

In recognition of environmental advances in the tire industry

Winner: AquaJet water jet rubber recycling technology

In an incredibly close vote in this category, AquaJet edged out Cooper Tire’s advances in guayule rubber by just a single point! AquaJet’s industrial-scale rubber recycling technology is based on a proprietary
process of milling whole tires with ultra-high-pressure water jets to create recycled rubber powder for use in tire production. The results of the latest developments are that 95% of the total rubber powder production is now below 400 microns, and that annual output capacity has been doubled. New investments secured in the past year, totalling more than €5m, will help AquaJet develop its technology further.

“It is a great pleasure for me to receive this award,” acknowledged Gábor Kostyál, CEO of AquaJet Ltd. “Now, as our team is celebrating, we all feel that the many years of hard work that our colleagues spent on development have definitely been worth it. We have high hopes that this award will help us become better known throughout the world.

“Climate change has drawn attention to eco-friendly technology and to recycled materials in our industry as well,” he continued. “Eco-friendly technology and the high standards of our products guarantee our tire manufacturer partners that they are doing everything in order to support sustainable development. This award also serves as confirmation for us and for our partners that we are heading in the right direction.”

“AquaJet is a novel approach to recycle tires into small-enough, high-quality rubber particles for reuse in tire products,” commented jury member, Romain Hansen, global director of tire technology projects for Goodyear. “The successful scaling up of the process shows potential for the future. Recycling and more specifically recycling of tires into quality products, as opposed to heat generation, will become more important in the years to come.”

Also shortlisted:
Carbon Clean Tech – Recovered Carbon Black
ColorService Srl – SAM-T dosing system
Cooper Tire – Advances in guayule natural rubber


Tire Technology of the Year - Hakkapeliitta R2 155/70R19 84Q – Nokian Tyres
In recognition of real advances in technology
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Tire Technology of the Year

In recognition of real advances in technology

Winner: Hakkapeliitta R2 155/70R19 84Q – Nokian Tyres

The new Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 is said to be the most energy-efficient winter tire model in the automotive industry and is the first to receive an EU ‘A’ label rating for rolling resistance. The tall-and-narrow size is designed specifically for BMW’s distinctive i3 electric car and defeated its closest challenger on the shortlist, another innovative new tire – the Michelin CrossClimate – by a single point in the voting.

The Hakkapeliitta R2 is claimed to combine extremely low rolling resistance – cut by up to 30% for electric vehicles, according to the tire maker – with first-class grip and exceptional comfort. The tire body is said to be particularly stiff; together with several new material components, this minimises the tire's heat generation and internal deformation. Nokian adds that the molecular chains of the next-generation Intelligent eSilica tread compound connect with the silica particles to form a strong but flexible combination. Meanwhile the canola oil used in the rubber compound adds tear strength to the new Hakkapeliitta, increasing its durability, and improves grip on snow and ice.

“We are proud to be able to offer more winter grip, more peace of mind and, in particular, more range to the ever-increasing number of electric car owners with our top-class Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 winter tire,” said Juha Pirhonen, vice president R&D, Nokian Tyres. “Making transport safer and greener is a leading principle for our product development, and Hakkapeliitta winter tires are born, bred and tested in demanding northern conditions. We are really thankful for this significant award. This is also an excellent opening shot for the 80th anniversary year of Hakkapeliittas!”

“Range is everything to drivers of electric vehicles, and even more of a concern in cold conditions, when battery performance can be compromised,” said Graham Heeps, editor of Tire Technology International magazine and chairman of the judging panel. “Every mile counts, so when it comes to tires, low rolling resistance is a must. Nokian’s Hakkapeliitta R2 means that this needn’t come at the expense of excellent grip in winter weather – a worthy recipient of the title, Tire Technology of the Year.”

Also shortlisted:
CrossClimate – Michelin
AirCell – Mitas
High-speed rotating tire lateral stiffness measurement method – Yokohama


Tire Industry Supplier of the Year - Mesnac
In recognition of excellence by suppliers to the tire industry
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Tire Industry Supplier of the Year

In recognition of excellence by suppliers to the tire industry

Winner: Mesnac

Having been runner-up in this category for the previous two years, Mesnac has won over the judging panel this time around with its continuing commitment to R&D investment and innovative products. In 2015 Mesnac was listed as the largest rubber machinery manufacturer in the world, and with an annual R&D budget representing nearly 9% of the company revenue, Mesnac is supporting customers in establishing smart tire factories.

Mesnac’s KENGIC subsidiary opened new premises in the first half of 2015 and is said to provide one-stop intelligent logistics solutions and robotic applications for tire manufacture. It is supported by a series of technologies including RFID (Mesnac is helping to formulate national and international RFID industrial standards) and MES (the company’s software passed the Software Engineering Institute (SEI)’s CMMI4 assessment), as well as by partnerships with the likes of Siemens, Bosch Rexroth, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Beihang University.

“Mesnac has won Tire Industry Supplier of the Year in 2016 after only 15 years of existence,” said Karol Vanko, vice president of Mesnac, who was in Hannover to collect the award. “Receiving this award starts its journey of maturity in our industry.”

For the judging panel, Mesnac was a runaway winner this time – half the panel awarded maximum points to the China-based company. “Mesnac has made a series of smart acquisitions in recent years and is one of the very few machinery makers to be truly innovative in its approach to the business,” enthused jury member David Shaw, head of research at Tire Industry Research. “It is pioneering developments in materials and processing where other manufacturers are simply adapting machinery to become a little more productive or a little more efficient. Mesnac appears to be addressing some of the more serious issues in the tire manufacturing business.”

“It is good to see that Mesnac is committing a significant proportion of the company’s revenue each year to R&D activities,” added fellow judge, Dr Stuart Cook, director of research at TARRC. “The commitment to continued development of smart systems for tire manufacturing shows the industry where the future lies. Mesnac’s willingness to form collaborations with key technology leaders also shows a desire to maintain its dominant position in the sector.”

Also shortlisted:
Cabot Corporation
Glanzstoff Sicrem


Tire Manufacturer of the Year - Bridgestone
In recognition of achievements by tire manufacturers
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Tire Manufacturer of the Year

In recognition of achievements by tire manufacturers

Winner: Bridgestone

Bridgestone, which finished ahead of runner-up Cooper Tire in this year’s voting, is the world’s largest tire maker and has just launched the innovative new DriveGuard runflat tire, but the achievements and announcements of future investment unveiled during the past 12 months show that the company isn’t resting on its laurels. It announced a US$250m investment to reorganise its R&D and production in Tokyo. As part of this, the company says it will foster open innovation through active cooperation with outside entities, and establish new facilities specifically for this purpose. Our judging panel also recognised the construction of Bridgestone’s first passenger tires in which 100% of the natural rubber was derived from guayule, as well as upgrades to its Asia Pacific Technical Center in Thailand.

Speaking at the trophy presentation in Hannover, the executive chairman of Bridgestone EMEA, Eduardo Minardi, said, “Everyone in Bridgestone is hugely proud to receive this recognition. R&D and innovation lie at the heart of all our activities; it is the only path that can lead us to a sustainable future.”

Among the judges’ comments was this from Prof. Toshio Nishi, special professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and a former recipient of Tire Technology International’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “The reorganisation of R&D will be very important for the world’s major tire manufacturers and this will be an interesting model.”

Added fellow judge Flavio Farroni from the University of Naples Federico II, and the recipient of the Young Scientist Prize in 2015, “The Bridgestone company, and in particular the Bridgestone Technical Center Europe, increased its know-how, staff and R&D budget during 2015. It’s a clear signal of a company strongly motivated to grow in the coming years, strengthening its reference position in the tire development and production field.”

Also shortlisted:
Cooper Tire
Nexen Tire


Lifetime Achievement Award - Jacques Noordermeer, emeritus professor of Elastomer Technology and Engineering, University of Twente
In recognition of a career of outstanding service to the tire industry
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Click here to watch a video interview with Jacques Noordermeer

Lifetime Achievement Award

In recognition of a career of outstanding service to the tire industry

Winner: Jacques Noordermeer, emeritus professor of Elastomer Technology and Engineering, University of Twente

Professor Noordermeer has worked in the rubber field for most of his professional life. He worked for 20 years at DSM Elastomers before setting up a chair of Rubber Technology (now Elastomer Technology and Engineering) at the University of Twente, the Netherlands, in 1995. This is also when his specific involvement with tire science and engineering began. From this point on, he split his time between commercial work for DSM and academic work at the university. This dual perspective has helped keep the university research work relevant to solving real-world problems, making it much respected within the tire industry.

When Twente’s Rubber Technology group was established, ‘green tires’ and energy saving were starting to become hot topics after the introduction of silica to passenger tires; Noordermeer took it up as a primary research focus for his group, and it remains so today. He believes that lots more can still be developed in this area, and he is a big advocate for more research into rubber technology.

“Most of our work at the university has a strong involvement in sustainability and energy savings, subjects that have gained – and are still gaining – more and more interest from the world at large,” he said. “I am really honoured by this award, which recognises our achievements at the university. I would like to acknowledge the many students who have contributed to all of this, and particularly my colleagues over the years: Dr Wilma Dierkes and my successor, Prof. Anke Blume.”

Prof. Noordermeer officially retired from the university in 2012, but still works there two days a week. In practice this ends up being closer to four days by the time work done at home is taken into account. So much for a relaxing retirement!

This year’s Lifetime Achievement recipient has won other major awards during his career, including the Technical Award of the International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers (IISRP), the International Rubber Conference Organization’s (IRCO) Gold Medal and the George S. Whitby Award from the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society.


Young Scientist Prize - Gregory Smith
In recognition of the scientists and engineers of the future who will contribute to scientific knowledge within the tire industry
Click here for more information on the winner
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Young Scientist Prize

In recognition of the scientists and engineers of the future who will contribute to scientific knowledge within the tire industry

Winner: Gregory Smith

The 2016 Young Scientist Prize was won by Gregory Smith for his paper on 'GS2MF', an advanced, flat-track tire test procedure used to gather data to parameterise Magic Formula 6.1 tire models. Smith has his own company, Tyre CAE & Modelling Consultants, but does much of his work at Jaguar Land Rover. He is also studying for a Ph.D, supervised by Professor Mike Blundell at Coventry University in the UK, and in his spare time writes for Tire Technology International.

“I’m extremely excited to have won and certainly didn’t expect to!” said Smith. “As ever with these big research and development projects, it’s not all one person’s work. I’d like to thank Jaguar Land Rover, who funded all the research; my line manager at Jaguar Land Rover, Jan Prins, who encouraged me to keep working on it; my colleagues Mateo Gladstone and Benjamin Dwyer, who made some major contributions; and Henning Olsson of Calspan, who also played a big part.”

All of the Young Scientist Prize nominees had their presentations to the 2016 Tire Technology Conference independently judged. Smith hopes to return next year to report on further developments: “I was able to present the basic GS2MF for Magic Formula 6.1 models, but I’ve been working on thermal models as well,” he said. “Next year I hope to present GS2MF+T, as it’s called, which includes extra testing to characterise the temperature sensitivity of a tire.”


Judging Panel 2016

  • Klaus Baltruschat, tire expert, TÜV SÜD, Germany

  • Uday Banerjee, consultant, advanced tire and rubber technology, India

  • Dr Seshu Bhagavathula, chief technology officer, Apollo Tyres, India

  • Maik Brinkmeier, FEM development engineer, Commercial tires, Continental, Germany

  • Stuart Cook, director of research, TARRC, UK

  • Flavio Farroni, research fellow, University of Naples Federico II, Italy

  • Jean-Claude Fauré, senior tire research specialist, Michelin, France

  • Stefan Fischer, managing director Europe for product technology, Giti Tire, Germany

  • Romain Hansen, global director, tire technology projects, Goodyear, Luxembourg

  • Graham Heeps, editor, Tire Technology International, UK

  • Rudi Hein, executive adviser, Standards and Regulations, Bridgestone Technical Center Europe, Italy

  • Gert Heinrich, chair of polymer materials and elastomer technology, TU Dresden, Germany

  • Kuninobu Kadota, fellow, Tire Research Division, Bridgestone Corporation, Japan

  • Federico Mancosu, consultant, ex-Pirelli, Italy

  • Kozaburo Nakaseko, senior executive officer, Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Japan

  • Prof. Toshio Nishi, special professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan

  • Joerg Nohl, VP for Engineering Tires, Continental, Germany

  • Henning Olsson, director of Research & Business Development, Calspan, USA

  • Bo Persson, research scientist, FZ Jülich, Germany

  • Lorenzo Pulici, engineering project leader, Pirelli, Italy

  • David Shaw, head of research, Tire Industry Research, UK

  • Gregory Smith, director, Tyre CAE and Modelling Consultants, UK

  • Saied Taheri, director of CenTiRe, Virginia Tech, USA

  • Joe Walter, adjunct professor, mechanical engineering, University of Akron, USA

  • Bob Wheeler, manager, tire engineering technology, Hankook Tire Akron Technical Center, USA

  • Shunichi Yamazaki, president, Intelligent Vehicle Research Institute, Japan

  • Chuck Yurkovich, senior vice president, global research & development, Cooper Tire, USA

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Future show dates:

Tire Technology Expo 2019
Dates: 12-14 February 2019
Location: Halls 19/20/21, Hannover, Germany