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Rubber machinery upgrade needed to deal with high-speed rail problems

The development of the rubber machinery industry has paralleled that of the high-speed railway industry: both have used an "introducing foreign technology", "optimizing and upgrading technology" and "innovation" approach, and both have experienced high-speed development. The railway industry has become a global No. 1 in speed and, in similar fashion, China’s rubber machinery industry has developed the world’s largest vulcanizing machine, largest internal mixer, largest all-steel single-stage tire machine, and largest plate vulcanizer. The radial ply tire rate has also increased from 0 percent to 100 percent. And, again, just as the speed of the high-speed rail system development does not necessarily mean safety, so the rapid expansion of the rubber machinery industry and all those "world’s firsts" does not mean a rise in the industry’s level overall. China’s rubber machinery companies overall in fact have a low R&D capacity and fairly low quality and their products do not meet international tire standards. And that means potentially hidden troubles for the development of the industry.

If we carefully analyze the market composition, we may see that the rapid growth of the Chinese market was mainly the result of the blind expansion of small and medium-sized tire companies and the blind repetition of projects. The Chinese market is scattered, product quality standards are low, and its growth lacks staying power. Meanwhile, investment by the world’s tire giants is huge, and the market entry threshold is high and as are the product quality standards. Currently, Chinese market orders are mostly domestic and there needs to be a greater effort to tap into the global market. The global tire market is highly concentrated, with Bridgestone, Michelin and Goodyear holding the top three spots and about 46 percent of the market. The top 10 companies control about 69 percent of the market, and the world’s prominent rubber machinery companies are growing much faster than their Chinese counterparts.

China’s rubber machinery industry, in overcoming problems similar to those encountered by its high-speed railway industry, needs to change its concepts and focus on two main developmental lines -- R&D and quality. It also needs to engage in continued improvements, better manufacturing, and the greater use of information platforms, and borrow the world’s best practices, improve management and product quality, and work toward a goal of world-class manufacturing.

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