Apollo’s manufacturing base at Chennai is claimed to be one of the most advanced tyre manufacturing plants in Asia. The Chennai unit specialises in radial tyres and runs at a daily capacity of 500 metric tonnes; translating to an average production of 16,000 tyres/day for passenger vehicle (PV) and 6,000 tyres for commercial vehicle (CV) segment. What’s more, the plant is currently undergoing an expansion, of which nearly 50 per cent is planned for CV segment. Apart from catering to the Indian market, the plant also manufactures winter tyres for European markets.
Our industrial visit at Apollo Chennai commenced with a brief overview of the facility followed by a video conference session with Mr. Satish Sharma, President, Asia-Pacific region, Apollo Tyres. During the interaction, he talked about the firm’s expansion plans, upcoming facilities, future projects, etc. Post this session, we were quickly relegated to the manufacturing unit since we had a lot to cover and grasp in a single day.
Once you step inside the tyre manufacturing unit, you are completely taken aback by the sheer size of the facility. However, as you learn more and more about each and every process that is being carried out during the manufacturing process here, you slowly tend to understand that beneath those massive machineries lie a phenomenal amount of proficient engineering skills and manufacturing prowess, which only a few others in the industry can manage to match. So without further ado, let’s step by step learn how rubber in its natural form is transformed into a circular shape that the world knows as a tyre.
Tyre manufacturing is divided into four major steps:
1. Compounding & Mixing:
A tyre as most people like to believe is not just made up of only rubber. Infact a typical tyre’s construction requires different varieties of rubber- natural or synthetic- along with carbon black, sulphur and oil as other additives. Depending on the usage, the composition of these compounds vary to achieve different objectives. However, even after doing so you can safely assume that more than 80 per cent of the total weight is contributed by rubber.