During the recent IAA Commercial Vehicle exhibition in Hanover, Germany, Bridgestone introduced two key new products for the truck and bus sector, the new Ecopia H002 range of fuel-efficient tyres, and FleetPulse – a combination of a mobile app, a centralised website and a tyre pressure monitoring system. During the show we had the opportunity to talk to Maurizio Stecco, who is Bridgestone’s General Manager – Commercial Product Planning for the company’s Europe region. We wanted to find out more about the planning process that Bridgestone had implemented in developing these two new products and some of the priorities that had been taken into account during the development process.
Maurizio Stecco Explains the Planning Process for New Bridgestone Products
Beginning with the Ecopia H002, Bridgestone’s new ultra-fuel-efficient tyre, Stecco began by explaining that the planning process always begins by analysing the customer’s needs at both OE and fleet level. For OE suppliers, of course, fuel efficiency is of key importance.
“This was, of course, the starting point,” admitted Stecco, “but this was not just about the OEMs, we needed to address the needs of fleets too, and here the requirement is not just for fuel efficiency but the reduction of the Total Cost of Ownership.”
Although the need for a high degree of fuel efficiency was paramount, Bridgestone were also looking to provide a tyre with good wet grip, traction and 3PMSF capability to allow the tyres to be used optimally during the most extended period of the year possible. All of this, without compromising on mileage and durability.
“It was very important to extend the time period in which the tyres could be used as much as we could,” explained Stecco. “We did this by optimising wet grip and traction. A big concern of the users of low rolling resistance tyres is the compromise between low rolling resistance and wet traction, so we made sure this requirement was kept in mind during the development of the tyres. Indeed, we carried out in-depth tests with TÜV SUD to demonstrate the tyre’s wet traction capabilities.”
According to Stecco, when Bridgestone produced the prototype for the Ecopia H002, the tyre was tested on 11 fleets across Europe. This included fitment to around 100 vehicles and 15 million kilometres travelled. The tyres were tested intermediately, especially during the winter.
“This formal testing process ended in July 2018 prior to launch, but we had the opportunity to keep on going and the mileage cumulation is still running,” explained Stecco.
On the subject of FleetPulse, Stecco explained that Bridgestone is evolving into a total mobility solutions provider, and that the development of FleetPulse comes under this remit. FleetPulse works by means of a smartphone app, which allows drivers and technicians to make timely vehicles checks including tyre pressures and other maintenance checks.
“The aim,” explained Stecco, “was to reduce downtime, maximise uptime, and reduce maintenance costs in order to guarantee maximum efficiency for medium and small fleets. It forms part of our Total Tyre Care Programme and can be used across the whole tyre life, including retreads.
“But there are opportunities to develop extra products and facilities in the future,” he added. “Indeed, our aim is to build on our tyre expertise, and to leverage our growing digital capabilities to continue to deliver efficiency, convenience and safety for our customers.