The sun is shining in the county of South Yorkshire through skies that are usually more likely to be overcast. Trains laden with containers roll into Doncaster's rail port. The monotonous clatter of their wheels provides the accompaniment to the bustling activity of the gigantic monsters in the port. The vehicles unloading the containers and piling them up in towering stacks are known as reach stackers. With impressive precision, the spreader, i.e. the machine's pick-up arm, closes round the container. In slow motion, it hoists the fully laden container aloft. With the container hanging from the hook, the titan moves ponderously to the nearest pile of containers and places its load at the very top with the utmost delicacy.
“Reach stackers are subjected to heavy loads. That puts their tyres quite literally under enormous pressure”, says Frederik Elgert, product developer OTR and Material Handling Tyres. “Massive abrasion, cracks and bulging are frequent occurrences. That's why we at Continental have developed a new compound, which we're testing here in Doncaster.”
The compound is called Port Plus, and it is designed to reduce abrasion and heat build-up in the tyre and thus increase the tyre's service life. Continental has been monitoring the advantages of this new compound in month-long trials and regularly visiting the Doncaster rail port. Testing has included looking at the depth of tyre tread as well as the intensity and the nature of the abrasion. “And, of course, we are also interested in what our customers have to say”, stresses Elgert. “And we have achieved some really good results in Doncaster. Even under the tough conditions here, the tyres are lasting twice as long”.