Kal Tire Mining Group takes innovation award at Electra Mining Conference in South Africa

Kal Tire’s Gravity Assist System came directly from an employee’s idea

by Timothy Fowler
Eric Bruggeman and Peter Nilsson.

Eric Bruggeman and Peter Nilsson. — Photo courtesy Kal Tire Mining Group

The Gravity Assist System patented by the Kal Tire Mining Division takes the lug out of lug nuts by supporting the 36-kilogram torque gun that tire techs use in changing 5,454-kilogram tires on the Cat 797 OTR Ultra Class Dump Truck. And this innovation won the International Mechanical and Technology Innovation category at the recent Electra Mining Africa 2018 conference in South Africa.

Kal Tire is in the business of managing total cost of tire ownership for mining customers, and this winning innovation drives better safety outcomes, reduces the hours required to service mining truck tires and elevates Kal Tire’s relationship with clients.

Innovation is troublesome. It’s hard sometimes to keep your eyes from glazing over when someone, yet again, says “think out-of-the-box.” Generating good ideas is gritty work. Some concepts never fly, some fail––systems don’t work as planned, but once in a while a brilliant idea gets traction, moves from development to testing, is proven and becomes an example of out-of-the-box thinking. Yet when one sees the simplicity and effectiveness of winning innovations you can’t help ask yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

“When I reviewed the Gravity Assist System (GAS), I was taken aback at not only the simplicity of the machine but how robust and effective it will be for tire technicians on mine sites,” said Eric Bruggeman, CEO of SA Capital Equipment Export Council and judge of all the products. “For decades these technicians have been suffering injuries and strains related to managing very heavy tools. The GAS is one of those things that makes you say, ‘Why hasn’t this been invented before?’ ”

Peter Nilsson, innovation and R&D manager at the Kal Tire Mining Group, brought this patented innovation to the mining market. (Read how Kal Tire Mining Division does innovation here.

Nilsson makes it his business to capture, collate and shepherd the best ideas from people in his business to make improvements to a number of processes that impact safety, cost and performance. Kal Tire Mining Group encourages employees to submit proposed solutions to sticky problems—any kind of improvement is eligible.

“Investing in innovation at Kal Tire means we are developing practical solutions that not only improve the safety of how our teams work but also provide opportunities for vehicles to spend less time in tire bays,” said Dan Allan, senior vice president, Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group. “Our intent is to continually invest in innovation that brings new products and solutions to our customers that help to increase efficiency, productivity and safety.”

In making the decision on the top entry, Bruggeman pointed to safety improvements, cost of tool manufacture and the innovative aspects of the tool in addition to Nilsson’s knowledge and passion for the development. 

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