Continental has launched a new range of agricultural tires that were developed with the goal of minimizing the impact of heavy machinery on the soil. The tires feature two innovations that are seen in an agricultural tire for the first time.
The first one is a patent pending technology called N-Flex and this involves the use of heat-treated nylon which is situated beneath the rubber. This nylon helps the tire to return to its original shape after the impact of heavy use. Tractor tires reach a high internal temperature during road use. When they are parked overnight, the temperatures become lower and the shape returns to the original shape when parked, creating what is known as ‘flat spots’. When the tractor is used again, the ride comfort will be affected as the tires are not a perfect circle. N-Flex helps to reduce the number of flat spots and makes the ride more comfortable.
Thanks to the use of N-Flex, the tire can run at lower pressures and this helps to distribute the weight of the machine and thus reduce soil compaction.
Commenting on the new range of tires, Richard Hutchins, agricultural tire specialist at Continental explained that the correct pressure for tractor tires varies depending on the load and speed needed to perform the needed task. Using tires which are not at the correct pressure can further aggravate soil compaction in addition to causing damage to the tire, increasing fuel consumption and lowering work rates. Tire technology needs to be upgraded on a continual basis to help farmers confirm to environmental and regulatory norms and preserve soil health.
Continental has invested 2.5 million euros in an agriculture-focused research and evaluation center to develop tires that meet all these requirements.
The second technological innovation is related to the tire’s ‘bead’. The bead is the wire that helps the tire to remain attached to the rim of the wheel. In the case of many agricultural tires, as many as ten individual wires are used to create one bead. The use of such multiple wires and multiple joins to join these wires can affect the strength of the tire leading to higher risk of the tire detaching from the rim, especially at low pressures.
Continental used a single wire construction wrapped around the circumference of the tire up to one hundred times to create an agricultural tire that holds its shape, even when run at very low pressures.
Richard added that the bead is as important as the rubber and nylon in a tire. The company’s research indicated that a more flexible tire with a stronger single bead construction can be used at a lower pressure. This can reduce soil compaction. Hence, tires with a single wire bead are safer and quicker to fit, hold the rim better and transfer torque more efficiently which reduces slippage, especially on wet ground. The most important consideration is that the tire will grip the rim even at very low pressures. This means farmers can further spread a machine’s weight and help protect the soil beneath.
Continental has used this technology in combine harvester tires and tires meant for tractors in the up to 200hp sector. Currently, tractor tires are offered in 65, 70 and 85 series from 24 inches to 42 inches and combine harvester tires are offered at 32 inches. The company continues to develop new agricultural tires continues at its production facility in Lousado, Portugal, and larger tractor tire sizes will be available before the end of 2019.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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