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Brahler’s Innovative Tread Replacement Facility

Brahler's Truckers Supply, Inc. has to offer the best of both worlds for companies that are trying to reduce their operating costs by running retreads. Inside the Brahler's plant are two separate retread building processes which provide two superior options to our customers:

Ring Tread
Unitread

Here is the Brahler's retread process:

1) Initial Visual and NDT inspection
While each of the Brahler Tire Centers inspect each tire before it is sent to Jacksonville, this station provides a more detailed inspection using professional equipment and staff specially trained for this critical operation.

Inspectors look for manufacturing defects, signs of impact that may have broken belts in the casing, repairable damage, non-repairable damage, and excessive aging. In addition to using a special hand-held light to see minor defects better, an electrical charge used inside the tire finds liner defects and nail holes too small for detection by the human eye. Tires that do not pass inspection usually go back to the tire owner, and some may be eligible for a warranty adjustment from the new tire manufacturer.


Shearography2) Shearography
Brahler’s sends tires that pass initial inspection to the second inspection station, a Marangoni Shearography machine. (ITT SFERRA 3000) This is a major step forward in finding hidden tire defects and in qualifying tires for retreading. Tires feed in on rollers and this computerized machine automatically adjusts itself for each individual tire size.

The laser shearography process takes nine different photos of sections of the tire interior from bead to bead, effectively looking at the entire tire. Then, a vacuum is applied to the tire and another nine matching photos are taken. A sophisticated computer program then digitally overlays and compares the two sets of photos. This shows any ply separation or movement in the internal tire layers. It also allows the inspector to confirm the integrity of any prior tire repairs.

Buffing3) Buffing
This is where the operator buffs off the remaining old rubber tread. Buffing removes the excess tread rubber but leaves some rubber above the belts, forming a sound foundation for the new tread.
What is critical at this station is that the buffing be perfectly circular with no flat spots or oblong shapes. In order to achieve this, the Brahler buffing machine has two features not found on many other buffers. One is that it uses solid center plates for holding each size tire during the buffing process rather than a generic expanding center hub. This requires changing the center plates for different size tires, but it eliminates the possible problems of irregularities with an expanding center hub that might not always work properly.

The second feature is that the buffing machine is computerized and has profiles of all major tire brands and models. Hence, this procedure eliminates human error and ensures optimum casing dimensions for the perfect fit of the new tread. Tires for retreading with a Ringtread get an accurate contour for a perfect fit.

Buffing4) Skiving
Here a trained tire technician checks the buffed tire surface for holes or other previously undetected defects. Now that the tire is buffed or naked the technician can see clearly if there are any defects that were not found at initial inspection. Any areas that are questionable will be dug or “skived” out to ensure there is no water or rust in the wires or belt areas. Then the casing is sent on to a repair station to be fixed.



Buffing5) Repair
All defects are repaired according to industry standards using a TECH thermocure repair materials. This type of patch has an inner belt layer and is actually stronger than the original tire belts when the repair is done correctly. Training for proper repairs is done constantly with the help from the professional trainers from TECH International in Johnstown OH.


AZ Cushion Gum Extrusion6) AZ Cushion Gum Extrusion
Instead of the old-fashioned rolls of cushion gum, the AZ computerized machine extrudes warm cushion gum onto the tire casing under pressure. This process offers several advantages over the other application method. The extruded gum fills any irregularities in the tire surface while its depth is highly controlled for maximum durability . . . one millimeter of gum on the center of the tire and two millimeters of gum on the sides. In addition, the AZ Extruder also has two separate sets of wing formers to create the correct base for the contoured Ringtreads or a flatter base for the Flat Treads.


Ring Tread7) Ringtread Builder
The technician scans the Brahler bar code tire number into his computer to find out what tread pattern the customer wants. The operator selects the appropriate Ringtread and carefully unwraps it to avoid touching it with his hands. The Ringtread is placed on the Ringtread Builder. Using computer and laser technology, the builder automatically expands the Ringtread slightly, the tire moves into the center of the Ringtread, and the Ringtread contracts around the tire in precisely the proper location.

Or the other retread building option:
Flat Tread 8) Flat Tread Builder
A tread builder for the older flat tread type of retread lets the operator wrap the precured tread liner around the tire and stitch it to the cushion gum layer under pressure. Once the tread is applied, the operator prepares the tread ends and makes the necessary splice(s). This precure process is less costly than Ringtreads but does not have the same quality appearance and fuel saving features. Brahler’s recommends the flat tread retread process primarily for trailer use and less critical applications.


Flat Tread 9) Enveloping - Inside / Outside System
After the tread has been mounted the tire is enveloped, which prepares the tire for curing. While some retreaders use only an outside rubber sleeve called an “envelope,” Brahler’s uses both an inside envelope and an outside envelope to protect the casing and new tread, and maintain the highest quality. Attaching a hose to the outer envelope applies a vacuum and provides pressure on the tire components during the curing process.


Curing10) Curing / Indirect Steam Autoclaves
Some retreaders use electric heating for curing while Brahler’s uses indirect steam autoclaves. One advantage of steam over electric is that it provides moisture during the curing process to prevent the rubber from drying out and becoming brittle. Given the fact that heat is the worst enemy of tires, a second advantage of the steam is that it allows a shorter curing time. The Brahler autoclaves will cure a retreaded tire in 94 minutes. Some of the traditional electric retread autoclaves require as long as four-and-a-half hours.

An interesting side note is that some retreaders using the prior technology may leave tires in the electric chambers overnight. This is known as a “sleeper cure” and can be bad for the casings since the excess heat can make tires age faster.

Final Visual Inspection11) Final Visual Inspection
When removed from the autoclaves, tires cool to room temperature and then they move to final inspection. What is particularly interesting is that the man in charge of final inspection was once a Brahler’s customer who was very critical of retreads and personally inspected every tire. Today, he works for Brahler’s and inspects every tire as it comes from the autoclaves. He has full authority to reject tires or send them back to any station. At this point, each tire is branded with Brahler’s DOT code and date of manufacture to identify it later.


Final Pressure Test12) Final Pressure Test
While final pressure testing is popular in Europe, it is still relatively new on this side of the Atlantic. Brahler’s places each tire in a high pressure cabinet to shield the operator and then inflates the tire in stages up to 100 pounds. This test confirms the fact that the retreaded tire is capable of holding high air pressure. Approximately once each month a tire casing fails this test. The sidewall bursts in what is known as a “zipper.” This is a triple check of quality that Brahler’s provides to ensure that the retreads that leave this facility will not injure tire technicians or fail out on the road.


13) Painting / Packaging / Routing
After final testing, the tire is painted and packaged as required with a thermal label that contains the same bar code number that it came in with. Some are given a customer’s own bar code or a stock sticker. The retreaded tire then ships back to a Brahler Tire Center or directly to the customer who sent the tire in for retreading.

 

For a DVD of Brahler’s Innovative Tread Replacement Process please click here and we will mail you a copy.