Understanding regulatory compliance and how non-compliance can affect your product is critical. Experts, Bruce Lambillotte of Smithers Rapra and George Gillespie of Gillespie Automotive Safety Services, recently shared their advice to tire buyers based on their years of experience in the tire industry.
U.S. Tire Regulations & Other Quality Measures
The first issue to address is that of legal requirements. Under United States law and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations, the importer of record is considered to be the “manufacturer” when the actual manufacturer is a foreign company. Therefore, the importer assumes all the legal responsibilities of the manufacturer for the tires it imports into the U.S. That means an importer / manufacturer must ensure that the tires it imports have been properly certified to the applicable FMVSS, and that the tires are free of safety defects.
Once an importer or buyer of tires for original equipment use has verified the compliance of the tires, it’s critical to consider quality of the purchased tires. Industry best practices generally include a long-term quality management process where the data needed to make the best decisions about the tires being purchased is generated through lab testing. This data will provide a baseline analysis of the tire’s quality over time and supply you with the ability to determine if the tire has changed in any way.
Many factors can influence the quality and performance of a tire, compounding the need for expertise in the investigation of quality. Whole tire testing is the first step in evaluating the overall quality of a given tire. It measures durability, key dimensional data and various performance attributes to gain a holistic picture of how the tire may perform in the real world. However, this will not provide all of the data points needed to fully evaluate the product.
Tire Benchmarking & Auditing
"Specification by Analysis" testing captures the characteristics of a tire at a point in time, and allows us to benchmark a tire against other, similar tires. It creates a dataset for comparison with future audits of tire composition and construction, providing a well-rounded picture of the tire’s quality to make better informed tire purchasing decisions. The analysis looks at component dimensions, reinforcement characteristics of belts, plies and overlays, rubber composition and physical properties, and inter-component adhesion.
There are many tools available to tire buyers to ensure that their supply is not only approved to be sold, but will also perform to expectations for the long term.