In another of our Agricultural Tyre features, Commercial Tyre Business spoke with Ole Baek, Regional Head Northern Europe & France at Yokohama Off-Highway Tires (YOHT).
Yokohama Off-Highway Tires Feature Alliance Agriflex
Asked about the outcome of trading in 2022, and prospects for 2023, Ole Baek responded that in the last year, the first quarter was been very dry, and this had affected everyone. However, looking across the whole year, YOHT had seen that user demand has been constant. Prior to 2022 there had been a tyre stock build-up and difficulties across global supply chains. In quarters 3 and 4 of 2022, distributors returned to normal stock levels, and this has affected all manufacturers negatively.
“Our forecast for 2023 is that the underlining market demand will be stable. Most business partners are back to normal pre-covid stock levels, so we’re looking towards the new year with optimism,” said Baek.
As with other manufacturers questioned for this series of features, Commercial Tyre Business also asked YOHT about the impact of climate change and what they could do to help the agricultural sector adapt to the changes.
Baek responded; “While the climate is getting warmer, this does not impact our product offering. It will impact the farmers in the sense that when it is dry, they can drive with less rubber on the tyre, because they would not need so much traction. When it is wet, it is the opposite. The weather conditions are becoming unstable, so farmers need to take into account that they still need good traction.
“We do need to give farmers and contractors credit, because they know very well how to deal with tyres in hotter weather. A trend we do see is that when it is drier weather, tyres are switched later.”
Looking forward, Commercial Tyre Business asked YOHT’s Baek about its planned investments in the agricultural secor in the coming year.
“We heavily invested in our new plant in Visakhapatnam, India,” explained Baek. “It was built in order to expand the production capacity of Yokohama Off-Highway Tires (YOHT) and production start was originally scheduled for the first quarter of 2023. However, we started production earlier (August of 2022), thus enabling us to respond more quickly to the global demand for OHT tyres.
“We are very excited about this state-of-the-art facility that will set a new benchmark for quality and productivity in this segment. With this increased capacity, we will be able to reduce our lead times and to serve our global customer base better.”
New products are what keeps the market ticking, and YOHT is no different in this respect. There will be emphasis on the latest technology and tyre offers.
“One of the highlights for YOHT is unquestionably the Alliance Agri Star II. Agri Star ll was designed in close cooperation with farmers and features a unique Stratified Later Technology (SLT) which ensures continuous top performance and an outstanding service life. We keep seeing customer appreciation across the different markets in Europe and receive very positive feedback via our field engineers and distribution partners, in particular to prolonged traction, low wear and the price-quality ratio.
The latest feedback was from France, where a French contractor has done over 1000 hours of work with the tyres – saying he was able to optimise his working time.
Our star in terms of VF is the Alliance Agriflex+ 372. This tyre is able to carry up to 40 per cent more load at the same pressure as a standard tractor radial. Its large footprint reduces soil compaction, ensures a comfortable ride and enables high traction, but most importantly reduces fuel costs and increases overall operational productivity. A 2021 research project in Denmark by SEGES Innovation confirmed these positive effects via field trails.
The Alliance Agriflex+ 372 technology literally pays off for farmers and contractors alike due to high yields and profit gains. The results show that VF tyres can ensure farmers increased profits of up to 3200 euros per 100 hectares, as lower tyre pressure means healthier crops and higher yields.
Then there is the Alliance 590: our heavy-duty flotation tyre for trailers, tankers etc. It was designed to specifically meet the requirements of all kinds of transportation operations in agriculture and construction. This flotation tyre features a robust, reinforced steel-belted construction for improved strength and better puncture protection, thus enabling it to gently handle heavy loads in fields, on roads and on construction sites. The high rubber to void ratio of the non-directional tread ensures optimum grip and traction as well as lower soil pressure in the field, along with a smooth and comfortable ride on the road. At the same time, low deflection, along with superior cut and chip-resistant compounds, allow for high stability and lasting operation on various surfaces. It is a winning package with clear benefits for end-users.
“We will keep releasing new sizes for both the Alliance Agri Star ll and Agriflex+ 372 to keep offering solutions to our customers and end-users. And – of course – we will be exhibiting at Agritechnica 2023.”
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the world has seen energy prices climb, this is particularly the case in Europe. How is YOHT helping to work with farmers to combat rising costs in a highly pressurised market?
“YOHT has been absorbing and buffering price increases ourselves on one side. On the other side, we are and have been investing in , for example, VF technology to support farmers through added value. The outcome of the SEGES research has been an example of that, and we are proud that our Alliance solutions pay off in everyday life, delivering excellent value for money in terms of ecological and economic results.”
“The agricultural sector is still the most important sector,” said Baek “While construction is linked to agriculture – it is a standalone, smaller segment. We ,as Yokohama Off-Highway Tires (YOHT), specialise in designing, developing, manufacturing and marketing tyres in the construction, forestry, industrial, earthmoving, mining and port segments – but agriculture undoubtedly remains the biggest segment. “