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Tyre brand returns after 17 years, with added performance tyres. More than 17M Euros has been invested in the Brazil plant for production of a new range of top specification tractor tyres, with emphasis on latest technology including; increased flexion (IF), very high flexion (VF) and cyclic field operation (CFO) and using new compounds for extended working life and optimum performance.

High performance

The Pirelli name featured on the sidewalls of many UK tractors until about 15 years ago when it gradually disappeared in Europe following the sale of its agricultural tyre division to Trelleborg. Now, Pirelli branded Agro tyres are returning, under ownership of the Prometeon Tyre Group (formerly Pirelli Industrial), incorporating technology to compete with current premium brands. David Williams tried them out. Pirelli ceased European agricultural tyre manufacturing as part of its 1999 agreement with Trelleborg but production continued in the rest of the world, with particular focus on Brazil. Since 2010 Pirelli has manufactured agricultural radial tyres at its Brazilian factory, mainly to meet original equipment demand from tractor manufacturers. Demand

in the country is high, with 61 million hectares of agricultural land producing crops including sugar cane, cotton and soy. There are two Prometeon factories, between them supplying 36 per cent of the Brazilian agricultural tyre market, and its tyres are supplied to most brands. The Prometeon Tyre Group also manufactures and markets Pirelli-branded truck, bus and OTR

Designated Pirelli High Performance (PHP), the new tractor tyres are aimed firmly at the premium end of the European market, and extensive testing has been carried out by demanding users during 2015–2016, following years of research and development in the company’s three development centres, including Milan and Brazil. Design objectives centred on the needs of the most demanding users, including those using precision farming products and likely to be first with the latest technology to increase productivity. “Pirelli High Performance tyres are totally new,” explained research and development manager Nicotina Domenico. “The tread design was created using 3d simulations to optimise footprint shape and contact area. Lug shape, angle and number of pitches have all been developed from simulations and operational tests, and the sidewalls have been developed in the same way, with optimal lateral and vertical deflection in work, including on-road for stability, comfort and long working life.”

Maximum working life Even tread wear is essential for maximum working life and the tread and shoulder design is critical. “We measured wear during more than 10,000km of on-road testing while also monitoring wear resistance of 7 potential compounds. Rim slippage under extreme loads at a range

As well as typical road surfaces there were miles of farm tracks to assess the tyres.

of working pressures was tested extensively in the R&D centres and in the field and traction performance was tested for all potential situations. “We identified professional contractors to test tyres for us, working them for at least 1,000hrs/ year for a minimum of 2 years,” he added. Results were impressive. In Belgium and the Netherlands 710/70R38 and 710/70R42 tyres operated by large scale farmers and contractors demonstrated classleading performance in the field, but also low wear rates of just 0.9mm per 100hrs worked, giving a projected working life of more than 6,000hrs. Farmers Guide's visit included the opportunity to view performance data gleaned during tests against other brands, although apart from Pirelli, brand names were hidden. “It would make no sense to test against anything other than the best competitors,” explained Nicotina. “We have developed tyres to give the best performance, operator comfort and the best working life.” The tests involved all aspects of the design and with few exceptions the Pirelli offering was rated at least as high as the best alternative, beating it in some areas while losing out marginally in others.

Availability Popular sizes for high horsepower tractors will be available initially, with priority given to the 350–400hp continued over...

t Farmers Guide was invited to try out the new PHP tyres at Pirelli’s secretive test track near Milan. Tyres were inflated to 1.6bar and tractors were driven at a range of speeds on a variety of surfaces, from tarmac to cobbled streets. u The new tyres have undergone thousands of hours testing across Europe and a selection of comparison results against other premium brands was revealed.

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