Canadian tyre management company Kal Tire regards Australia as home to some of the world’s most sophisticated mining companies.
It is also a jurisdiction where the company has set lofty ambitions for its Mining Tire Group to become a leading provider of services and products that deliver competitive advantages for these operators.
While Kal Tire has operated in Western Australia since 2000, it wasn’t until 2016 that the company became a truly national player in the country’s mining industry.
Kal Tire expanded through the acquisition of the Klinge & Co. tyre services business, in June last year, demonstrating its coast-to-coast commitment to the Australian market.
The acquisition of Klinge also followed the opening of Kal Tire’s Muswellbrook mining tyre repair facility in New South Wales earlier in the year, a milestone that kick-started its emergence on the east coast.
Kal Tire’s expansion across the country has proved to be a positive move for the company, according to its Mining Tire Group senior vice president, Dan Allan.
He described the acquisition of Klinge as a crucial development in Kal Tire’s strategy to position itself on Australia’s east coast, in addition to the foothold it had already established in WA.
“When the opportunity with Klinge came around, it provided two things. Firstly, it gave us an opportunity to have a presence nationally on more than 20 mine sites across Australia, guys on the ground serving customers every day, and an outstanding long-term reputation,” Allan told Australian Mining.
“The second thing it gave us was a team that was aligned with our aims. If you know anything about Kal Tire, our aims are important to us in terms of how they guide our team members and what anchors us in terms of decision making and behaviour. The Klinge team was very well aligned with that.”
Kal Tire’s Australian presence consists of around 250 team members servicing more than 20 operations in major mining regions, including the Pilbara in Western Australia, the Hunter Valley in NSW and the Bowen Basin in Queensland.
This may seem like a strong platform for Kal Tire to build on but the company has not lost focus of an aim to add value to its existing mining offering through innovation.
It set up a tyre management innovation program to help it achieve this and, while only a few years old, the initiative has already delivered a series of products and tools into the field.
“Almost three years ago we set up the innovation program after noticing that tyre maintenance, tyre practices, tyre operations hadn’t changed in 25 years,” Allan said.
“They were using the same tools, the same methodology and the same training practices as 25 years ago. We just had the idea that there must be a different way to go about that.”
Kal Tire recently showcased two innovative services developed through the program that are now offered to the mining industry: the Gravity Assist System and Ultra Repair.
The company originally unveiled the Gravity Assist System at MineExpo in Las Vegas in September 2016.
It then exhibited a next generation version of the system at the Asia-Pacific International Mining Exhibition (AIMEX) in Sydney this year.
The mechanical tool has been developed to safely and weightlessly manoeuvre the 36-kilo torque guns used to fasten lug nuts on earthmover tyres. The next generation version is two times the size and four times the weight of the prototype, making it capable of performing this job at mine sites.
Gravity Assist acts like a mechanical arm to hold and swivel the torque gun like a weightless extension of the technician’s body, removing the need to fasten almost 70 lug nuts holding an enormous torque gun.
Kal Tire innovation, research and development manager Peter Nilsson said the company focused on how it could improve the safety of this operation, while also making it easier for technicians, in the development of Gravity Assist.
“I thought, there must be a better way to operate and handle these torque tools,” Nilsson said. “We need to create something to support them, and make this operation safer and improve performance.”
Gravity Assist is valuable for its ability to eliminate pinched fingers, muscle strain and repetitive task muscle disorders, as well as fatigue to help improve efficiency, precision and safety.
Kal Tire is also adding value for Australian miners with the Ultra Repair service, which is available to the industry at its Muswellbrook and Kewdale service centres in NSW and WA, respectively.
Both of Kal Tire’s Australian service centres have become expert practitioners of Ultra Repair, an innovation that uses a proprietary patch to replace damaged tyre cables, as well as a unique installation technology to extend the life of the tyres.
Ultra Repair was 15 years in the making for the company, which had recognised the limitations of traditional tyre repairs in Canada’s coal industry at the start of the century.
Over this period, Kal Tire researched a process that could solve a long-standing, expensive tyre problem that had plagued mining companies.
Australian managing director Darren Flint said the company wanted to develop the materials and the procedure to perform larger and stronger repairs.
“Today, that means we have the capability to repair not only large injuries, but also those located in area that were previously impossible to repair,” Flint said.
Kal Tire launched Ultra Repair in 2014, expanding possibilities for miners when traditional patches risked bulging, lasted only short periods, were appropriate for only smaller injuries or suited only certain locations, like the tread.
With Gravity Assist and Ultra Repair making a positive impression in the industry, Kal Tire remains focused on developing new tools and products that will add further value for mining.