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Old 28th August 2015, 13:06   #1
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Default A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai

If you ever wondered how tyres are made, Vid6639 and Suhaas307's fantastic report on the Apollo Tyres Chennai factory (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/tyre-a...king-tyre.html (PICS: Apollo Tyres Chennai Factory. Detailed report on the making of a Tyre)) would have answered any questions you may have had. Having seen how the big names on the block do it, Team-BHP was invited to the "Temple Town" of Madurai to take a look at the operations at the TVS Tyres factory. Since photography within the facility is restricted, this report will give you a little taste of what goes into the brand's everyday functions.

An aerial view of the facility:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-tvs-factory-high-res-jpeg.jpg

A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07142.jpg

Through its specialization in two and three-wheeler tyres, TVS Tyres caters to a wide range of OEMs including Bajaj, Hero MotoCorp, Honda, Suzuki, TVS Motors and Yamaha among others.

Before we get into the finer details of the company's operations, here are a few interesting facts:

• Incorporated in 1982, the company rolls out around 2 million tyres from its manufacturing units in Madurai and Uttarakhand, every month. The company is in the process of ramping up production to 2.3 million tyres a month.

• TVS Tyres traces its origins to the production of moped tyres. The company then added scooter tyres before producing motorcycle tyres.

• The company started as a two and three-wheeler tyre company and consciously remains one today. They want to maintain their specialization in the segments.

• The very first Yamaha RX100 in India used TVS Tyres.

• TVS Srichakra has 3 main sub-brands i.e. TVS Tyres, Eurogrip and TVS Eurogrip (Industrial / off-road tyres). TVS Eurogrip tyres are sold across over 80 markets.

• The Eurogrip label was introduced, largely to give the brand a more premium appeal. Additionally, many OEMs complained that they couldn't use the TVS Tyres label on their products for obvious reasons.

• Europe and the USA are the brand's largest international markets.

Research and Development

The company setup an independent R&D building in 1995 with the centre gaining government recognition in 2008. With a built up area of 35,000 sq. ft. the R&D centre covers a plethora of functions which are detailed below.

A brief look at the TVS Tyres R&D:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-1.jpg

One of the primary functions is product development. This includes research on new materials, new compounds and new methodologies for tyre production:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-2.jpg

A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-3.jpg

The R&D department also looks at the acquisition and approval of new machinery, while managing customer complaints / inputs as well:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-4.jpg

How does the R&D process begin?

The process begins of course, with a request coming in for a particular product to be developed. This part can begin either when a new product request comes in from an OEM or the research wing itself starts the development with the intention of offering future centric products. Based on the requirements, the research for the tyre recipe and design begins.

The material and compound development stage takes into consideration the type of tyre required based on which, the chemicals, polymers and reinforcement materials (carbon black, steel, tire chords) are analysed. Given the importance of the development stage, TVS Tyres has even hired Japanese consultants for compounding and design, along with European consultants for compounding, processing and machinery improvements. The company also interacts with specialised institutes for inputs.

Benchmarking and QFD

Benchmarking is a practice that no auto enthusiast will be unfamiliar with. It is often the process being carried out when we see spy shots of cars testing with rival models. It entails an analysis of the competition / an existing product and seeing how they can better their own offerings. Furthermore, the research process enters a crucial stage called QFD or Quality Function Deployment.

QFD is a filtering process that determines a variety of factors before a product gets closer to the production stage. It is a structured approach to help researchers focus on select factors like aesthetics, performance, operations and ease of use, by consulting a variety of parties including OEMs, mechanics and end users. Through this, factors like the fabric, dimensions, compound, tread gauge, pattern and bead are shortlisted / fine tuned.

Fun fact: Soon after we were given an overview of the QFD process, I caught a glimpse of some of the products in the pipeline. Manufacturers approach several tyre producers to make tyres for them before finalising the best one. I can confirm that TVS Tyres is developing new products for all-new projects from Bajaj, Hero, Honda, TVS and United Motorcycles (UM Global).


The QFD process helps set a blueprint for simulations. Simulations are a major safeguard to not only make the developmental process more efficient and cost-effective, but also help cut down the margin of error. Simply put, it allows the study of a variety of tyre characteristics without actually having to make the tyre.

The team uses software for 3D meshing and simulation of product behaviour. Factors tested here include:

• The tyre's dimensions when fully inflated.

• The footprint under load i.e. with passengers on board.

• Wear / uneven wear.

• Radial stiffness.

• Tyre compound behaviour and tyre curing.

• Dynamic behaviour i.e. the tyre's response to steady state rolling, acceleration, braking and cornering.

The simulation process helps finalise the final design of the tyre, including the look.

The tread pattern of a tyre is mainly there for water channelling / directing water away from the contact patch. The tread design is purely for aesthetic purposes and it's mainly the compound that determines the kind of grip you'll get.

A closer look at some of the tread patterns:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-7.jpg

A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-8.jpg

A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-9.jpg

A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-10.jpg

A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-11.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 1st October 2015 at 15:57.
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Old 28th August 2015, 13:33   #2
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Tyre testing and the Madurai track

Of course, no matter how advanced technology gets, no tyre can be accepted until it has been physically tested. The testing methods applied also spread across a variety of conditions and can be roughly categorised as indoor and outdoor testing.

Indoor testing

This includes an endurance test, in which, a tyre / prototype is put through countless hours of machined travel. A tyre is put up against a large roller that simulates a road, while traveling at variable speeds. The test helps determine how the tyre responds in terms of material expansion, wear patterns, etc. Other indoor tests include the plunger test, tubeless tyre testing and high speed testing, all of which monitor factors like tread and sidewall strength and even see how a tyre performs at speeds as high as 350 km/h!

With the brand targeting international products and markets, the testing process is also carried out at international centres. For example, the dynamic bead unseating test (test to see what kind of pressure the tyre, specifically the sidewall can take, before it comes off the rim) are carried out in Europe. Agricultural tyres are tested at institutions like IIT and ISAM, Italy.

Outdoor testing

These tests are used to gauge a tyre's behaviour in the real world in a variety of conditions. For example, a test course in Japan helps the company analyse a tyre's cold weather behaviour. At the Madurai plant, TVS Tyres has 30 vehicles used for purposes like convoy testing and driveability testing.

An interesting note: For the convoy tests, 7-8 riders (with pillions) ride the test vehicles for ~480 kms on a daily basis! The safety gear is top notch too and the testers get airbag-equipped riding jackets and DOT certified helmets.

A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-6.jpg

With virtual, indoor and real world tests out of the way, a tyre must also prove itself on Indian test tracks. Wet grip and driveability tests are carried out at the WABCO track in Chennai. TVS Tyres also has a small test track near the Madurai facility. We were taken to this track to take a quick spin on two motorcycles with different tyres. A Honda CBR 250R wearing TVS Tyres and a Bajaj Pulsar 200 NS with Eurogrip rubber were our steeds for the short date with the track. Given that these were different motorcycles, it wasn't as much a test of the tyres as it was of the track.

The track is a fairly small one and can be used to test basic handling abilities, but at moderate speeds. The entry to the track leads you directly to the main straight where you can hit ~100-110 km/h before you need to slow down to hit the S-bend. The cornering test isn't very extensive - you hit only four curves and corners at speeds of 30-40 km/h, before returning to the main straight. The corner before the straight is quicker - you hit it at ~60 km/h, before going flat out.

The main straight. At the end of this stretch is the track entrance. See that building to the left? That's a school. The kids can actually see test riders in action with front row seats!
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07110.jpg

Riders continue (from the left) after barreling down the straight. You hit the brakes at this 'V' section to see how the tyres grip & how much counter balancing is required:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07111.jpg

After the braking test, riders cut through this S-bend at relatively moderate speeds:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07120.jpg

You enter the S-bend at ~30-40 km/h:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07123.jpg

The track gets a little wider as you exit the bend:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc_6071.jpg

The S-bend leads you into a long curve, where you can pick up some speed before hitting the main straight again:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07133.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 1st October 2015 at 15:53.
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Old 2nd September 2015, 11:44   #3
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A glimpse : Quality control and production

The manufacturing process begins with the raw material being brought in from a variety of vendors. The materials are housed in a large warehouse in a series of storage compartments. The inventory is tracked and kept a tab on through a colour coded system called the Kanban-based storage system that helps them monitor the stockpile.

While most of the raw material is kept in a ventilated warehouse, certain chemicals / materials are kept in specialised rooms where the temperature is a lot lower.

The storage area is built in a separate section of the facility:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07144.jpg

Doing it the old way - tractors are used to transport materials within the plant:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07145.jpg

The raw material is stored in this building. Specialised rooms with lower temperatures are also housed here:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07152.jpg

Once the raw material has been accounted for, it is sent for quality testing in labs, which are located in a different part of the facility. These labs are highly insulated from any foreign particles and you have to wear a sanitary cover on your shoes before you can enter them.

Quality testers then analyse the raw material and then put it through a series of tests. The samples are chosen at random and shipments are sent back if they are not satisfactory. The compound decides how the tyres behave, so this is a sensitive and crucial phase. Everything from temperature sensitivity, chemical composition and compound elasticity to the tensile strength of the bead wire is tested with several machines before any raw material gets to the production phase.

A closer look at the quality criteria:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07085.jpg

Raw material is sent to the shop floor based on lab approval and the FIFO i.e. first-in-first-out method, where the oldest material is processed first, is used to ensure that the stockpile doesn't stay unused beyond a certain point:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07089.jpg

A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07090.jpg

After the materials receive the go ahead, they are sent in for production. The production phase begins by mixing the raw materials needed to produce the tyre. This phase is essentially where the recipe comes to life. The chemicals, raw materials, dyes, etc. are mixed at a high temperature, so as to "prepare the dough". The dough is then pressed through a series of rollers to ensure a fine mix. At the end of this process, the material is still like clay and can be twisted by hand.

Through a combination of man and machine the tyre starts to get its structural rigidity. The material is wrapped around a roller after which, beads are attached to the sidewall to outline the tyre's shape. The dough finally starts to look like a tyre and is given a proper shape by expanding the inner wall. The tyre is then sent for curing, where it gets its final shape, along with the tread pattern and sidewall lettering, denoting the its specifications.

Fun fact: Ever seen those flimsy little rubber spikes that come out of a tyre? That's excess air pushing out through tiny pores in the mould, when the tyre is being shaped. They don't have any purpose and many of us have had a ball of a time pulling them out of tyres. For the larger industrial tyres, a group of employees actually shave off these spikes off by hand!

The quality compliance tests continue after the tyre has been produced. Like the raw material, the final tyre is also tested randomly to root out any inconsistencies:
A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07095.jpg

A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07100.jpg

Once produced, the tyres are stocked and dispatched to the company's network of over 3,000 distributors, dealers and mechanics.

The overall experience was quite an eye opener. TVS Tyres is a home-grown manufacturer that has rapidly expanded its footprint and is even manufacturing tyres for brands like Michelin through an independent unit within the Madurai facility.

A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai-dsc07158.jpg

Last edited by Aditya : 4th September 2015 at 13:30.
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Old 4th September 2015, 13:37   #4
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Default Re: A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Tyre Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 7th September 2015, 11:53   #5
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Default Re: A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai

Thanks for sharing this report. I always love to read reports on factory visits as they bring to light several aspects that go into the manufacturing and development of products that we would have otherwise never known. I liked the fact that you have kept the report simple and easy to understand. I wonder why the guys at TVS restricted photography. Luckily for us, when Rehaan and I visited the SF Sonic factory (PICS: SF Sonic Battery Factory. Detailed report on the making of a Car Battery), we had complete freedom to click pictures.
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Old 7th September 2015, 12:09   #6
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Default Re: A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai

In-spite of all the R&D, there is no TVS tyre which caters to the enthusiast. All of them are rock hard, hard wearing tyres which inspire zilch confidence in wet compared to the those like MRF revz, Zapper vyde, Michelin pilot street radial etc.

I rode a Pulsar 200 NS with Euro grips and had a few heart in mouth moments during hard braking and cornering. And this is with a 110 section front and 130 section rear. My pulsar 180 with Zapper FY1 90 section at front and Michelin pilot street 110 section radial at rear gripped like a leech on the same stretch in comparison.And this is with manufacture specified tyre pressures!

IMO, TVS should offer few models and sizes which cater to the grip loving biking enthusiasts .
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Old 9th September 2015, 17:09   #7
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Default Re: A short visit to TVS Tyres, Madurai

Originally Posted by sagarpadaki View Post
IMO, TVS should offer few models and sizes which cater to the grip loving biking enthusiasts .
It's a shift that's on the anvil. The brand is still focusing on mass market offerings because even most OEMs prioritize the fast movers. The R&D department confirmed that they have started working on tyres for performance motorcycles and given their affiliation with Michelin, the data sharing may bear fruit in the future.
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