Michigan (US)-based Argonics has developed an innovative new sidewall protection solution to protect valuable OTR tyres.
Purpose-built for use on heavy equipment operating in mining environments, operators can bolt on the polyurethane sidewall shield to prevent the sidewalls from getting punctured when operating in mining or quarrying sites.
Argonics, which specialises in high-performance, polyurethane-based elastomers, is one of the largest producers of wear-resistant and customizable urethane products. Its sidewall protector uses a proprietary urethane formulation called Kryptane, which was engineered for extreme wear conditions involving abrasion, sliding, or impact.
“The special properties of urethane make it an excellent material for sidewall protection,” the company claimed. “This tough, elastic material excels in loading applications as it will change shape under heavy load and then return to its original shape once the load is removed.
“Urethane offers maximum abrasion resistance, which is ideal for situations where severe wear is a problem. It is also already hard at work in mining applications withstanding abrasive ore, sand, and gravel moving through a conveyor.”
The idea for applying the special properties of urethane for off-road sidewall tire protection came from Perry Fell, territory manager at Luff Industries, a Canadian distributor of Argonics, who thought Argonics’ expertise in high performance polyurethane elastomers would be well suited to an OTR application, and proposed the original design.
The sidewall protector comprises eight integrated segments that together with a specially designed ring use 32 bolts to apply to a wheel. The entire sidewall protector can be installed in about 15 minutes, once the special flange has been installed by certified personnel.
If an individual segment is damaged, an operator can replace just that piece saving the cost of replacing the entire shield. “Virtually no maintenance is needed other than to re-torque the bolts after 15-20 hours of use - much like when installing new tires on a car,” said Argonics.
According to Fell, who has been overseeing product testing, the urethane-based sidewall protector has been tested for more than eight months since 2017. It has been installed on the front tyres of a Caterpillar 980 - a seven cubic yard loader. The loader has been working in a quarry face with blasted rock in a site located in Ontario, Canada.
“The sidewall protector has been performing very well,” said Fell. “We’ve had no tyre punctures or sidewall issues since installing the protectors.”
According to Fell, the quarry is a harsh environment for tyres, as there is contact with very abrasive material from small particulates up to 24 inches in size. He estimated that the cost to replace tyres on the loader would be up to US$12,000 for a new tyre or up to US$6,000 for a used tyre.
Bob Welker, international sales and director of marketing at Argonics, said: “We’ve been able to refine the sidewall protector design based on the extended testing in the quarry. There have really only been minor changes needed for things like increasing the size of the bolts.”
Welker added that the patent-pending urethane sidewall protector is currently in its fourth generation, and the company is preparing to make the sidewall protector available to the market shortly.
Currently the design is based on a 25-inch wheel diameter used by loaders such as the Caterpillar 980. The company is planning a sidewall protector for a 45-inch wheel diameter next.