Tire Manufacturing | MCR Safety


Tire Manufacturing | MCR Safety

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“A bad attitude is like a flat tire; you can’t go anywhere until you change it.”

Yes, it is true; a bad attitude and a flat tire have much in common, as both prevent one from moving forward in life.  With that said, there was a time thousands of years ago when the concept of a tire did not exist, much less a rolling wheeled object.

To fully appreciate the tire, one must first appreciate the wheel.  The creation of the wheel is one of humanity’s most ancient and greatest inventions; so valuable that it continues to transform our modern world.  Some 5,000 years after its discovery, the wheel is as influential today as it was with that first wheelbarrow.  Without the wheel, we wouldn’t have automobile tires to help us get us from point A to point B.

The automobile tire is a ring-shaped rubber cushion that fits and surrounds a wheel’s rim and is filled with compressed air.  The next couple of images help visualize how the wheel and tire are linked.

Ancient Wheel

Modern Wheel and Tire

The U.S. tire manufacturing industry is made up of companies that manufacture tires and inner tubes from natural and synthetic rubber.  Tire are manufactured for a wide range of moving vehicles: automobiles, trucks, business, aircraft, tractors, shopping carts, bicycles, and motorcycles.

Below, we highlight the history of tires, the manufacturing process, types of tires, and their economic impact.   Most importantly, we highlight the hazards workers face when manufacturing tires and the PPE they should consider wearing while on the job.

The Rubber Tire’s History

First pneumatic bicycle tire found at the National Museum of Scotland

The wheel, on its own, when rolled across surfaces, begins to wear and tear.  As the 19th century ended and bicycles were becoming popular, an outside layer added to the wheel was needed to absorb damage and minimize wear.  This is where the tire debuted on the world scene, providing strong absorption and a smooth ride.

Early tires took on the appearance of leather bands wrapped around a wooden wheel.  The solid rubber tires that followed after these initial designs owe their existence to Charles Goodyear, who discovered vulcanization in 1839, which is the process of curing rubber with sulfur and lead.  It turns sticky rubber into a stable material, perfect for manufacturing tires.

By 1888, the tire industry was set, when John Boyd Dunlop created the first successful pneumatic tire, an air-filled tire rather than one made of solid rubber.  It reduced vibration and improved traction with the road, providing users with a smoother overall ride.

Radial tire, which dominates today’s tire industry

Today, two different types of pneumatic tires are constructed: bias and radial construction.  The tire’s belt is what separates the two, with radial tires being strengthened by steel fabric.

Modern Tire Products

Over 200 raw materials makeup a tire’s composition, ranging from the following: wire, rubber, chemicals, carbon black, oil, nylon, polyester, and steel.  Ultimately, the material that goes into a tire impacts worker safety.  For example, different chemicals require different glove polymers, and sharp metal may require higher ANSI-rated cut gloves.

Here are the core materials that make up a rubber tire:

  1. Chemical Products – 37.3%
  2. Rubber – 12.1%
  3. Metal – 4.6%

Even though a tire is made up of these three core materials, not all tires manufactured are the same.  Different tire treads are crucial to performance in different types of driving conditions.

Tires are broken up into a couple of major product categories, and then a variety of tires are made within each category.  Passenger car tires make up the bulk of tire production, with 45% of all tires made, followed by truck and bus tires with 30%.  Industrial tires are the smallest category of tires produced.  Below are the types of tires manufactured for different vehicles and environments:

Passenger Tires

Passenger tires are engineered for a variety of driving experiences.  In 2018, the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) reported that 46.2 million tires were shipped for OEM and 214.9 million were shipped as replacement tires.  Here are some types of passenger tires:

  • All-season tires – manufactured for a variety of road conditions, including mud and show
  • Touring tires – designed for a comfortable ride and more responsive handling
  • Performance tires – larger circumferential and lateral grooves provide better grip in wet weather
  • Summer tires – designed for wet and dry conditions

SUV and Truck Tires

Truck and SUV tires need to meet a wide selection of driving needs and end uses. In 2018, the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) reported that 11.5 million tires were shipped for OEM and 52.6 million were shipped as replacement tires.  Here are some tires specific to SUVs and trucks:

  • All-terrain tires – used on four-wheel drive vehicles
  • Highway tires – all-season tread patterns designed for heavier loads
  • Mud-terrain tires – designed for traction in deep mud and sand
  • Ribbed tires – ultimate tire for highway handling and long-lasting mileage

 

Specialty Tires

Tires fit a wide variety of vehicles, from ATVs to trailers. Here are some specialty tire types:

  • ATV tires – designed for mud, sand, and all-terrain
  • Trailer tires – carry heavier weight for longer periods
  • Winter tires – manufactured for deep snow and harsh winter conditions
  • Summer tires – warm weather tires, not designed for snow or ice

There’s a ton of important information located right on your tires.  That’s right, those side numbers do mean something.  Just click the images below to learn more.

A tire’s date means something.

Economic Impact

The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) reported that a total of 325.2 million tires were shipped in 2018.  The overall industry is forecasted for $19 billion in revenue in 2019.

Demand for tires is ultimately impacted by new vehicle sales and the need for replacement tires.  As we highlighted on our Motor Vehicle Manufacturing page, worldwide production for automobiles is at an all-time high.  The increased production has, in turn, increased demand for tires.

Companies

The largest tire manufacturing companies operating in the U.S. are Bridgestone, Goodyear, Michelin, and Cooper Tires.  These top four tire manufacturing companies generate more than 70% of tire manufacturing revenue.

Out of 62 plants operating in the U.S., yearly tire capacity for all North American tire manufacturing plants was 334.8 million tires in 2018.  Here is a list of some of the largest operating plants within each state.

AL Gadsden 26 Goodyear
AL Dothan 5 Michelin Tire
AR Texarkana 32 Continental
GA Macon 11 Kumho Tire
IA Des Moines 4.57 Bridgestone
IL Mount Vernon 41 American Industrial Partners
IL Mount Vernon 3.9 American Industrial Partners
IN Fort Wayne 30.5 Michelin Tire
KS Topeka 6.1 Goodyear
MS Tupelo 42 Continental Tire
NC Fayetteville 41.5 Goodyear
NC Wilson City 35 Bridgestone
OH Findlay 23 Continental Tire
OK Lawton 64.5 Goodyear
OK Ardmore 44 Michelin
SC Aiken 35.7 Bridgestone
SC Greenville 28 Michelin Tire
SC Lexington 24 Michelin Tire
SC Sumter 12.6 American Industrial Partners
SC Greenville 7 Michelin Tire
TN Clinton 41 American Industrial Partners
TN Jackson 15 American Industrial Partners
TN Clarksville 10 Hancook Tire
TN Warren County 9 Bridgestone
TN La Vergne 6.2 Bridgestone
VA Danville 13 Goodyear

Yearly tire capacity for all of North America totaled 334.8 million tires.  The new Giti Tire plant located in South Carolina is helping prop up U.S. total production numbers is projected to produce 5 million tires annually.

State Employment

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Rubber Manufacturing Industry employs a little over 134,000 individuals.  Of that, the tire industry itself employs roughly 70,000 workers.  Out of this number, around 22,000 are referred to as tire builders.  Here is a snapshot of the states employing the most tire builders:

South Carolina 4,200
Alabama 2,040
Georgia 1,830
North Carolina 1,710
Ohio 620

Data USA maps out the counties in each state with the highest rates of tire manufacturing employment.

County Employment According to Data USA

Pneumatic Tire Manufacturing Process

Manufacturing a tire involves multiple steps. Here is a breakdown of the overall process:

Multistrada, a producer of tires, has created the visual aid below to illustrate the tire manufacturing process.

 

 

 

Here is a look at the occupations found in this industry.

 

Occupations

The top three occupations found in this industry are the following:

  1. Tire builders
  2. Extruding operators
  3. Metalworkers

 

To manufacture tires, you need workers. Based on the Bureau of Labor (BLS) statistics for Rubber Manufacturing, which includes Tire Manufacturing, here is a snapshot of the main occupations:

  • Tire Repairers and Changers 

    A vehicle requires tires to be occasionally changed once the tread wears down.  There are around 1,220 members of this occupation in the rubber and tire manufacturing industry.  You will find these workers remounting wheels, removing puncturing objects, and assisting mechanics.

  • Tire Builders 

    An automobile has at least four tires, which means a lot of rubber tires are needed for a vehicle to run.  This worker operates machines to build tires.  There are around 22,000 members of this occupation in the rubber and tire manufacturing industry.  You will find these workers trimming excess rubber, cutting plies, and painting solvents.

  • Mixing and Blending Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders 

    Machines are operated to crush, grind, and polish materials.  There are around 3,300 members of this occupation in the rubber and tire manufacturing industry.  You will find these workers crushing and grinding materials, along with mixing chemicals.

  • Metal and Plastic Workers  
  • Machine Tool Cutting Setters and Operators  

    A multitude of automotive parts are shaped to different dimensions.  There are around 3,100 members of this occupation in the rubber and tire manufacturing industry.  You will find these workers inspecting metal workpieces and operating machines such as lathes, cutters, and shears to make metallic and plastic workpieces.

  • Laborers and Material Movers by Hand 

    The entire automotive industry has many objects moving at all times.  There are around 4,130 members of this occupation in the rubber and tire manufacturing industry.  You will find this occupation loading docks, moving parts, moving materials to production areas, and moving finished vehicles to warehouses.

  • Industrial Maintenance Workers  

    Automotive factories have many machines that need to be maintained and repaired.  There are around 9,690 members of this occupation in the rubber and tire manufacturing industry.  A maintenance worker must be skilled in electricity, welding, and mechanical systems.  You will find these workers repairing equipment and cleaning machines and machine parts.   Cleaning solvents, oily parts, and metalworking fluids are a definite concern for these workers. 

  • Industrial Machinery Mechanics  

    Industrial Mechanics repair and maintain industrial production and processing machinery.  There are around 2,800 members of this occupation in the rubber and tire manufacturing industry.  You will find these workers cutting and welding metal to repair broken metal parts. 

  • Extruding and Drawing Operators 

    Automotive parts are needed in all shapes and sizes, including rods and other structural shapes.   There are around 15,000 members of this occupation in the rubber and tire manufacturing industry.  You will find these workers operating machines to extrude or draw thermoplastic or metal materials into tubes, rods, hoses, wire, and bars.

  • Cutting and Slicing Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders 

    The rubber used in tire manufacturing needs to be cut to exact lengths.  There are around 2,000 members of this occupation in the rubber and tire manufacturing industry.  These workers operate machines that cut/slice materials, such as glass and rubber.

 

Work Activities

The workers in the tire manufacturing occupations listed above engage in a wide range of activities.  Here are just a handful of the hundreds of activities performed across this industry.

1910 Akron Tire Workers

Assembly

  • Assemble components
  • Clean and maintain work area
  • Conduct quality checks
  • Depress pedals to collapse drums after processing is complete
  • Fit inner tubes and final layers of rubber onto tires
  • Start rollers that bond tread and plies as drums revolve
  • Trim, shim, and cut materials

Tire Repairers and Changers

  • Remove puncturing objects
  • Remount wheels

Metalworkers

  • Cut, shape, and form metal
  • Fabricate metal parts

Extruding, Forming, and Press Operators

  • Apply parting agents
  • Clear equipment jams
  • Cut industrial materials
  • Inspect plastic composite products
  • Mount attachments
  • Move material between work areas
  • Operate metal or plastic forming equipment
  • Remove products from production equipment
  • Stack finished items

Tire Builders

  • Brush or spray solvents onto plies to ensure adhesion
  • Pull plies from supply racks
  • Roll camelbacks onto casings by hand, and then cut camelbacks, using knives
  • Align parts or workpieces
  • Align plies with edges of drums
  • Assemble tires
  • Brush or spray solvents onto plies
  • Cut industrial materials
  • Inspect worn tires for faults, cracks, cuts, and nail holes
  • Load materials into production equipment
  • Mount attachments or tools onto production equipment
  • Place tires into molds for new tread
  • Position rollers that turn ply edges
  • Roll hand rollers over rebuilt casing
  • Trim excess rubber and imperfections during retreading

Many of the activities found in the automotive industry involve metal fabrication.  Be sure to check out our Metal fabrication industry page for more information and resources.

Safety

Worker safety is important to the tire manufacturing industry.  It is a dangerous industry, with about 22% more injuries per year compared to the average for all industries.

Manufacturing tires is hazardous primarily because it involves humans interacting with numerous dangerous operations, as we highlighted in the Activities section.  When working with rubber, many injuries occur due to manual handling, such as loading materials into production equipment.  In addition, because chemicals make up the main material in tires, you can bet workers come into contact with hazards substances.  Thankfully, MCR Safety makes gloves that protect against harsh chemicals.

The good news is the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) recognizes those companies advancing occupational health and safety.  MCR Safety assists safety managers in advancing safety in their production areas by offering the most advanced PPE found in the marketplace.  Below, we highlight the hazards workers face in the industry.

Let us keep you safe when building tires. We Protect People!

Automotive Professions and Hazards Matrix

Find the appropriate PPE for specific automotive hazards with a simple easy to follow guide.

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Common Tire Manufacturing Hazards

Find the right MCR Safety product that protects you against these common hazards.

Chemical and Liquid

Manufacturing tires involves a mixture of hundreds of chemicals throughout the manufacturing processes.   Possible exposures include N-nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, solvents, and phthalates.  MCR Safety offers a wide range of chemical resistant gloves for different chemicals encountered.  Be sure to check out our Chemical Permeation Guide for specific chemical breakthrough times.

Common Applications:

  • Cleaning work areas
  • Spray solvents onto piles to ensure adhesion

Crush

Exposure to hazardous equipment is a definite concern for workers in this industry.  Loading materials into production equipment and mounting workpieces are examples in Tire Manufacturing.  Wearing gloves with 360-degree protection makes a lot of sense.  Check out our Impact Protection Page for additional information.

Learn More About Crush Protection

Common Applications:

  • Mounting attachments

Cut and Liquid

There is no need in sacrificing liquid protection for cut protection or vice versa.  We’ve made our new Predastretch glove equipped with a cut liner!  We keeping adding on features to glove we know workers require.

Cut and Sense of Touch

Tire manufacturing workers use their hands to handle, feel and touch many objects.  We continue innovating featherweight fibers that provide cut protection and ultimate dexterity for handling the smallest objects workers touch.  Be sure to check out our Cut Protection page for additional information.

Learn More About Cut and Sense of Touch Protection

Common Applications:

  • Cutting and shaping metal
  • Fabricating parts

Cut and Sharp Objects

Lacerations are always a concern when you’re manipulating any material.  In this industry, using knives to cut camelback and cutting industrial materials for fabrication is when cut protecting gloves need to be worn.  Be sure to check out our Cut Protection page for additional information.

Learn More About Cut and Sharp Objects Protection

Common Applications:

  • Trimming excess rubber
  • Roll camelbacks onto casings by hand
  • Cutting industrial materials

Dust

Grinding and trimming rubber during inspection and finishing may entail exposure to rubber dust.  We manufacture a wide range of lined eyewear styles, chemical goggles, and an ANSI D4 dust rated goggle.

Common Applications:

  • Touching up
  • Trimming excess rubber

Grip

Maintaining a solid grip is essential when placing tires into molds, assembling tire components, mounting tires and positioning rollers that turn ply edges.  MCR Safety’s coated gloves are dipped with premier coatings to ensure you maintain a solid grip.  Be sure to check out our blog “Top Gripping Properties”.

Learn More About Grip Protection

Common Applications:

  • Assembling tires
  • Removing products from production equipment

Grip and Liquid

Workers handle, weigh and mix many raw materials.  For those only requiring minimal liquid and material exposure, consider Grippaz disposal protection for enhanced grip properties.

Learn More About Grip and Liquid Protection

Common Applications:

  • Lab testing

Heat

Workers are exposed to heat throughout tire manufacturing,  from the mechanics working on hot machines to workers exposed to hot curred rubber.  Sometimes you need to match rubber with rubber, like with our 9687 rubber coated highly heat-resistant and cut-resistant glove.   We’ve written a Heat Resistant Gloves blog to keep you informed!

Learn More About Heat Protection

Common Applications:

  • Maintaining production machines

Common Applications:

  • Maintaining production equipment

Impaired Vision

A release of pressurized air is always a concern for workers.  Keeping those eye protected during the explosive separation of components is a 100% must.

Common Applications:

  • Loading machines
  • Tire building
  • Assembling tires

Noise Levels

Sounds are a little uncomfortable at times in tire manufacturing operations.  Our new CL4 eyewear allows workers to keep their eyewear close by.

Common Applications:

  • Factory operations

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MCR Safety manufactures and supplies Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Simply put, WE PROTECT PEOPLE!  We are known world-wide for our extensive product line depth surrounding gloves, glasses, and garments spanning across numerous industries.  We offer the total package of safety gear encompassing industrial gloves, safety glasses, protective garments, welding gear, industrial boots, Flame Resistant (FR) gear, face shields, and much more.  From a glove standpoint alone, MCR Safety manufacturers and supplies over 1,000 different style gloves. Here are some of the many reasons MCR Safety is your go to source for PPE:

  • Global PPE manufacturer, with operations stretching across 5 continents. 
  • Direct manufacturer of over 50% of all product, ensuring the highest level of quality. 
  • In conjunction with quality control measures resulting from direct manufacturing, our ITC Innovations Technology Center ensures another layer of testing glove quality. The ITC Lab is the only ISO 17025 accredited lab to perform ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 cut resistance, abrasion resistance, puncture resistance, and conductive heat resistance testing in North America. We offer no cost testing for users interested in knowing the quality level of current PPE being worn or for potential new products being considered.
  • Winner of multiple new product innovation awards, most recently being the DM3 eyewear
  • Dedicated 360° Safety Specialists ready for onsite PPE consultations.

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MCR Safety is recognized as a global manufacturer stretching across six countries, with both distribution and manufacturing facilities.  Our core competency and specialty is manufacturing and supplying protective gloves, glasses, and garments.  The information shown and provided on MCR Safety’s website, its safety articles, industry resource pages, highlighted hazards and safety equipment should be used only as a general reference tool and guide.  The end user is solely responsible for determining the suitability of any product selection for a particular application.  MCR Safety makes no guarantee or warranty (expressed or implied) of our products’ performance or protection for particular applications.

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