Archive for May, 2010

Online ad market is projected to exceed previous forecasts

IDC has adjusted its 2010 U.S. ad outlook from a March estimate of 12.6% revenue growth to a more optimistic expectation of 19% growth. This forecast followed last week’s IAB report citing an online ad spending increase of 7.5% for the first quarter of 2010.

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May 30, 2010 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

VALE – Australian Tyre Manufacturing

The last Australian tyre manufacturer, Bridgestone in Adelaide, has closed the doors on their factory (April 2010). So ends a long history of tyre manufacture in Australia, which commenced only four years after the patents issued to John Boyd Dunlop in 1888 for the pneumatic tyre.

Many manufacturers have been and gone.They included Dunlop 1902, at Montague , Port Melbourne, and later at Drummoyne in Sydney. Goodyear established in 1927 at Granville in Sydney, later extending to Thomastown in Melbourne. Perdriau was absorbed by Dunlop, (1929) and Barnett Glass, established in Launceston, also by them in 1933. The Rapson Tyre Company also failed, and its machinery provided the basis for Beaurepaire’s new enterprise.

Many of their key personnel transferred to Olympic, established by Sir Frank Beaurepaire in 1933. His history reads like a movie script. An Olympic exponent of the revolutionary Australian crawl, on the way home from the Antwerp Olympics of 1920, he saw tyre retreading in Canada as a future business enterprise. In 1922, he and another lifesaver rescued a shark attack victim at Manly beach, at considerable risk to themselves. A daily newspaper opened a public subscription to reward their bravery, and the $6000 raised consolidated him in the tyre business as a retreader. Later, the other manufacturers declined to supply his stores, because he discounted the prices of new tyres. So he started his own Olympic tyre factory in Footscray, Melbourne to ensure supply.

Meanwhile Hardie established in Sydney, later being taken over by Firestone. South Australian Rubber Mills in Adelaide formed a joint venture with Uniroyal of America in the sixties, later taken over by Bridgestone; and B.F.Goodrich set up a factory at Somerton in Melbourne, later absorbed by Olympic.

Now well into the sixties, Dunlop and Olympic got together and established joint venture factories called “Tyremakers” in O’Connor, W.A., and Elizabeth in S.A. Olympic had built quite a good sized unit at Geebung in Queensland in 1951.

Accompanying this was a corresponding expansion of the manufacture of chemicals required by the tyre industry- nylon and rayon tyre cord, steel wire coated with brass, carbon black (in both Sydney and Melbourne,) and synthetic rubbers, again in both capitals. A long line of petrochemical plants was built in Altona, a western Melbourne suburb, to feed these industries. Some used Bass Strait oil, for some, it was not suitable. In many cases, their establishment was due to “me too” political pressure from State governments wishing to augment their manufacturing base, with the ever present threat of loss of government business.

Then along came the radial tyre, first textile belted, then steel belted. Mileages doubled, demand dropped, and the writing was on the wall. Finally, all that was left was Dunlop, (which had merged with Olympic), Bridgestone, and Goodyear. Goodyear merged with Dunlop Olympic, the venture called South Pacific Tyres, which closed its last factory in 2008.

Factories had become larger and more efficient, being designed around production modules that produced 40000 tyres a day, because of the large investment required in machinery and technology to produce the modern tyre.

So now, they’ve all gone, as far as Australia in concerned anyway. Probably for the past two decades, design, evaluation, testing was all controlled from a computer terminal in an overseas headquarters. The chemical manufacturers have moved on too; even the wire producer at Geelong has closed down.

What have we lost? In a word -“expertise”. This industry was the training ground for many engineers, industrial chemists, production managers, designers, toolmakers, pattern makers, equipment designers, computer programmers involved in “just in time” supply, warehouse operators, maintenance engineers; the list goes on. Also tyre designs developed and tested to be eminently suited to Australian conditions, particularly in the agricultural sphere.

Tyre assembly being labour intensive, many a migrant family got their start in their new country working there. Fathers and mothers used to exchange their children at the watch-house at the change of shifts- both working to become established in their new country.

Strange to think that this scenario is now being played out in an overseas country, in a factory probably owned by a multinational tyre company. That’s progress!

May 26, 2010 at 2:15 am Leave a comment

Punctures and “Run-Flats”

I hope that it’s been raining where you are. We needed it.

However, one side effect that can get us involved, is the greater risk of a puncture.

Why? Because wet rubber cuts easier, and is pierced easier, than dry rubber. When the tread rubber is almost gone, then the incidence of punctures increases markedly. A fair statement is that the rate of punctures doubles when there is only the last ten percent of the tread thickness left.

So it’s only flat at the bottom, you are told by unsympathetic observers, while you struggle with over- tightened wheel nuts, and having to unload the boot to find that long neglected spare wheel. And of course, it’s still raining.

So what do you do about it? An ounce of prevention, and all that.

First- is there a spare wheel in the wheel well. Is there a wheel well? Good question. Many modern cars/SUV’s don’t have a spare. They supply a can of gunk to seal the tyre, and get you home. Supposedly.

Not much use though when confronted by the tyre ‘failure’ in the accompanying photographs.
Tyre Puncture

This is what is known as a “run flat failure”. The tyre invariably is on a rear wheel, and has been run in a straight line, deflated, at speed for a considerable distance. The sidewall “knuckles under” midwall where the rotating tyre hits the ground, and the heat and distortion actually melts the reinforcing cords in the tyre casing. So after around 10 km, it fails, disastrously. As the driver of this utility explained, “it happened on the freeway, mate”.
Tyre Puncture

You’d need a pretty big can of gunk to fix that, mate!

Then they started the unenviable task of finding a replacement tyre. Being a utility, it was shod with commercial (or L.T.) tyres, which even though it was a Holden, aren’t always carried by retail tyre stores. Took the whole afternoon.

So make sure that your vehicle has a spare, that it’s got air in it, and can be accessed. It doesn’t matter if your new car has a steel wheel, with a different sized tyre on it, when all the rest are spiffy low profiles on mag wheels- it has been matched and approved for rolling diameter ,and load carrying capacity, and it’s legal.

If it’s a used car, make sure that it’s got a spare. Period!

May 25, 2010 at 5:55 am 6 comments