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Mining has been a major foray for Bridgestone, says Parag Satpute, Managing Director, Bridgestone India

Mining has been a major foray for Bridgestone, says Parag Satpute, Managing Director, Bridgestone India

How are the increasing roads & highway construction and favourable mining policies benefitting your organization?

The government’s outlook towards Infrastructure and mining is positive and we hope to see tremendous progress in these areas going forward.  While India’s commercial vehicle segment is slowly catching up to radialisation, we still have a long way to go.  Considering this scenario, we are also gearing up to be a leading partner to India’s mobility and growth journey. Bridgestone has a strong presence in mining segment across various applications from dumpers, loaders, underground equipment, wheel loaders & other support equipment. Mining demands performance-oriented tires with low cost of operation which we are able to provide our customers with superior quality.

Road conditions and highway construction plays a significant role in the tyre life cycle and performance, enhancing their life by 10-15%. Government initiative to construct 35kms/ per day state and national ways is definitely a positive sign for tyre manufacturers and transport community. Better road and highway conditions will be a key enabler to enhance radialization. Secondly it would also give confidence to fleets & foster tubeless adoption. Fleets plying on super highways also require superior technology radial tires/ tubeless tires to balance speed and heat related nuances. Moreover, smooth highway and road conditions,enhancing tyre life also enable fleets to manage total cost of operations.

What are your offerings for both these sectors that you have introduced in the market in the last two years?
Mining has been a major foray for Bridgestone & we believe in Kaizen. Hence, the products are on continuous development to achieve higher life & performance to bring down the overall cost of operation for customer in critical applications. We have introduced upgraded products with pattern VSMS2 (V-Steel Smooth Tread-MS2) for underground loader application which has reduced the risk of sidewall cuts frequency by 30% over previous model. In the High-Speed Mobile Crane segment, Bridgestone Japan has developed VHS2 (V-Steel Highway Service 2) which can deliver upto 10% upwards Tread life over previous spec while ensuring higher resistance for irregular wear which is key for such applications.
Bridgestone India has also been working closely with many Industry body Associations to understand concerns of the fleet community. Their challenges on service level operations and tyre maintenance need to be addressed. Increase in fuel prices also adds to their pressure to manage costs. To address these needs, we have been able to introduce multi fold solutions for our customers. Our premium flagship product Like EcopiaM751 and V STEEL Mix M721 deliver 15% extra tyre life and fuel savings of 7-8%. We also offer fleets ‘End to End’ service solution and highway services on puncture and repairs.   

Bridgestone Japan has been developing various products based on Customer demand & region-specific application. Bridgestone Japan is developing Firestone* radial products for the mild operations like highway & roads to get a dependable performance among peers & competing with their likes of price for customer’s consideration. We have supplied Firestone radial products since last couple of years in certain size & now working on more size offerings to compete in this sector.
(*Firestone is the US Tyre maker merged with Bridgestone in 1988.)

R&D in OTR tyres is a continuous process. How is your product portfolio shaping up? Which are the new products lined-up?
Bridgestone India is importing 100% OTR Tires from Japan. Bridgestone Corporation, Japan has expansive R&D centres where new products are on continuous development based on customer/market feedback, new regulations, OE spec requirement, etc.We also share inputs on product performance & new product requirement to compete in the Indian market.
The most recent development has been in the Ultra Large 57” tires with introduction of revolutionary MasterCore off-the-road (OTR) tire line in the Mining Segment. Bridgestone MasterCore tires feature a new casing design to achieve ultra-high durability and increased productivity. The objective of this new technology is to give fleets greater utilization of their haulage assets and achieve lower cost-per-ton of production. The technology will ensure the key performance attributes such as faster speeds, increased payload and/or maximized uptime that meet customers' specific site and haul road needs.

Technology enabled tires embedded with sensors and IoTs are firmly gaining footholds worldwide. How is India progressing on this front? Are you planning to launch technology enabled tyres in India?
We are working with our global companies to get the sensors & associated products to help customers track the performance of tyres. The TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System) has been in India for quite sometime now & we are working on getting a reliable product in this domain through our associated companies.

Please share with us the after sales services you offer and the awareness campaign for tyre safety you have launched?
We have customized service offering based on the application & customer needs. We carry various technical activities & have our personnel placed at critical locations to support our tyres & help customers achieve desired performance.The key aspects include the right IP maintenance, timely rotation & favorable operating conditions. We do also conduct Tonne Kilometres per Hour (TKPH) study to basically monitor the heat built up in the tyre during operations which is a very critical aspect in recommending the right spec of the tyre.
For our Commercial tyre segment, we have also recently launched a claim app for faster resolution of claims and enhanced service to our customers.
Bridgestone India has also launched couple of after sales services that are unique digital solutions such as BridgestoneBookmyservice and Pick Up and Drop that ensures contactless service, keeping in mind the safety and well-being of both consumers and channel partners.
Apart from digital led initiatives for after sales service, we as an organization are a thought leader in the category and have launched our tyre safety and awareness campaign through various leading innovative platforms in the market.
We use opportunities and platforms like Quora that give the both brand and consumers an opportunity to directly engage and interact with each other at a larger level. It helps us resolve basic queries promptly.
Social media is growing and is a great way to connect the Brand with the users. For instance, during Covid time we did both pre and post lockdown tyre safety awareness campaign on social media and the campaign has garnered very positive responses.
Bridgestone India won National Excellence award in Content Marketing during Pandemic.With our content marketing activity, we managed to spread awareness amongst over 10M. Positive sentiments on social channels increased by 20%. The content was appreciated by the consumers as well as the internal audiences and the dealers. Tyre category happens to be a low involvement category on digital space, even so over 65 thousand engagements were garnered on our content pieces.

In view of ever-increasing roads & highway construction and favourable mining policies, are there any plans to increase production capacity, to set up new plants or new products in the offing?
Though we are not producing any OTR tyres in India, globally the production has been on increasing trend since Q4 of 2020. With Governments focus on infrastructure development & mining opportunities in coal, iron & other metals, we see a surge in demand in the years to come. Bridgestone has been expanding their manufacturing capacity of OTR tires globally. Bridgestone India is being supported through manufacturing facilities in Japan for all size requirements.

Covid-19 protocol such as ‘minimum contact’ has further expedited Digital initiatives to be in contact with the dealers and end users. What are the digital initiatives you have taken in this regard?
Bridgestone India is not just a world leader in Tyres but also offers mobility solutions. We believe in evolving with time and supporting our customers and dealers in all possible circumstances. Serving society with superior quality is our key essence and we believe that launching the digital initiatives during Covid time was much needed breakthrough for tyre category.
Bridgestone India announced the launch of Contactless Tyre Servicing platform called ‘Bridgestone Bookmyservice’, a platform that enables customers to take an online appointment in a few clicks, making them spend less time in outlets with these pre-planned visits. The planner will also allow Bridgestone channel partners to implement appropriate social distancing measures at the outlets, which are necessary in times of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Another milestone that was achieved with our digital initiative “Pick Up and Drop”, which is a contactless service aimed at enabling consumers to book a valet to get all their tyre-related needs and services addressed, without stepping out of their homes. The ‘Pick Up and Drop Service’ caters to all tyre-related needs and requirements of the consumers, ranging from wheel alignment, balancing or fitting new ones. Our Contactless Pick Up and Drop Service is designed to ensure complete safety of our consumers, valet and channel partners with high standards of sanitization and social distancing. The Service is being offered in selected 20 cities.

Manufacturing is slowly moving towards sustainability, eco-friendly and energy efficiency products. How are you embracing these to reduce CO2 emission and to manufacture tyres of the future?
Bridgestone India has set a target to reduce 1.5 lakh tons of CO2 emission in next two decades by adding more solar capacity in its two plants in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. As a global corporation, the Group’s long-term vision of 2050 and beyond is to contribute towards carbon neutral. So great is this commitment that the latest Corporate Sustainability Report states a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions across the product lifecycle and entire value chain to contribute to the realization of a carbon neutral society. This, the company wants to achieve by reducing absolute CO2 emissions by 30% and aspire to reduce by 50% by 2030.
Apart from this, we also aim to be the leading mobility solutions partner to India’s growth journey, of which Road Safety is an essential part. Understanding the gravity and need for road safety for our country, we have been working towards providing support to HMV drivers by organising eye check-up camps at critical locations pan India. Through our project Sarthi, we have been extending support for formal training to youth for Commercial vehicle driving, filling the gap of skilled drivers on road. Our tyre check-up camps at various highways and availability of good quality repair for tubeless are key initiatives to ensure tyre safety on road.

 

 




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