In June 2016, Canadian tyre management and supply company Kal Tire acquired the tyre services business of Australian-owned Klinge & Co., thus broadening its reach across Australia.
Prior to the acquisition, Kal Tire operated in Western Australia for nearly six years and later established a tyre repair facility in Muswellbrook, New South Wales as part of its goal to expand across the country. The Muswellbrook facility, which opened on April 1 2016, spans a total of approximately 10,000sqm; covering 8000sqm of hardstand, 1500 sqm of workshop space and the remainder comprises of office space and a carpark.
The acquisition of Klinge’s mining tyre service has strengthened Kal Tire’s offering in Australia. Kal Tire Australia managing director, Darren Flint, told Australian Mining that the arrangement was positive as both companies are culturally aligned.
“Klinge mining services has very similar values to what Kal Tire has because although we are a global business, we’re still family owned and run,” he said.
Kal Tire was established in Western Canada during 1953, while Klinge, also a family owned business, has been operating since 1971. Klinge & Co. will remain a software company going forward focused on tyre management systems, tools and training.
Flint added that Kal Tire brought a global methodology along with additional tyre management offerings to a very strong Australian-based mine services business with the acquisition. In particular, the ability to repair ultra-class tyres with Kal Tire’s exclusive Ultra repair product and process.
Flint highlighted that the major challenge with repairing tyres is the limitation of what can be done to a tyre.
“The mining company wants to run the machines harder, as quick as possible, and carry as much weight as possible,” he said.
“They push the tyre’s capabilities to the limits on a regular basis so [one of the problems is] having the capability to be able to repair damage.”
Flint added that due to the large costs to operators for a damaged tyre, it is important to follow management processes to reduce the potential destruction.
“Some of the damage can be avoided with practices and procedures being followed and implemented,” he said.
“It’s a big cost to our clients so anything we can do to reduce the early life failure of a tyre is conducive to a solution to that appliance problem.”
To reinforce its tyre servicing capabilities, Kal Tire released the Ultra Repair technology in 2014 following the difficulty of repairing ultra class mining truck tyres. Around 15 years ago, patches that were available to ultra class tyres had the risk of bulging and limited the size of injuries that could be repaired.
“What we’ve identified a long time ago in the Canadian business was the various existing repair methods have limitations so we find that our own repair, the Ultra Repair, allows us to repair larger injuries,” Flint said.
The Ultra Repair patch provides enough robustness to restore a tyre to its original strength, integrity and performance, more cost-effectively then purchasing a new tyre.
It is able to repair tyres up to 63 inch (160cm) in ultra class tyres.
Flint added that Ultra Repair allows the company to work on tyres that were traditionally discarded and get them back into service.
“Under our repair standards, we can now put these tyres back to work and we bring value back to the client,” he said.
One of Kal Tire’s biggest focuses is innovation, which Flint said they took very seriously. He added that the company has its own Innovation Centre in Vernon, British Columbia, to develop innovative tools and processes to improve productivity and safety of mining operations.
Flint added that the company also encourages suggestions and ideas from its team members that they could use potentially to develop safer, easier and more efficient systems. .
“We encourage all our team members to look at what they’re doing and share ideas with the Innovation Centre,” he said.
“Then we have a team of people and graduates from the local university that then look at ‘Can we take this idea into a workable tool?’”
Kal Tire entered into a research partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC) to further develop technologies for the mining industry.
Under the three-year agreement, researchers are invited to submit their project ideas to a committee of Kal Tire and UBC’s Okanagan School of Engineering representatives – anything from robotics to environmentally friendly ways of using recycled tyre crumb.
These items are then tested in-house before they are taken to be adapted globally.
“We are continually looking at new and innovative ways of doing things,” he said.
One of these innovations is the gravity assist system which allows technicians to weightlessly shift tools and other parts, reducing the possibility of injury. The tool minimises fatigue, instances of pinched fingers, and strain that occurs when mounting earthmover tyres.
Another one of Kal Tire’s innovation’s is the ram mount tool which secures the ram when breaking the bead. It avoids using tools not designed for dismounting procedure, allowing technicians to work safely and improve service performance.
The company has also designed a pneumatic and an electrical trolley which can be remote controlled, allowing workers to stand at a safe distance away from the truck area.
The company is looking at growing its business in Australia, with a main focus on organic growth.
“We see Australia as a long term mining region and Kal Tire is serious about being here,” Flint said.
“We will always look for opportunities to grow and increase our capabilities and offering.”