Functional and safe production
We improve our EHSQ operations comprehensively in co-operation with the personnel, occupational health care, authorities, and experts. Our goal is to ensure a safe and efficient work environment that takes into consideration the physical, mental, and social well-being of our personnel. Our personnel actively participate in the voluntary, further development of occupational safety, processes, and environmental issues. We work towards our goals with environmental and safety programmes, continuous auditing, and risk management surveys, for example. They form the outset for the systematic induction and training of our personnel. We provide training on working ability and ergonomics, chemical safety, and minimising fires and other risks.
We also have in place a technology policy that supports the achievement of our goals. We invest in the most advanced production technology possible in order to prevent harmful impacts on safety and the environment.
With a number of initiatives at the Nokia factory, we aim to improve the safety culture and halve the number of accidents in five years.
Read more about our work on safety culture under People!
This is how our production works!
Natural rubber and other raw materials travel a long and interesting way to finished premium tyres. It comprises thousands of hours of work, expertise, professional skill, and inventiveness. The tyre manufacture process has six main parts: buying and reception of raw materials, mixing, component manufacture, assembly, curing, and inspection. Furthermore, the storage, transportation, and retail sales of tyres are important for successful operations.
1. Buying and reception of raw materials
Raw materials for tyres include natural rubber, synthetic rubber, soot, various chemicals, and reinforcing materials. We buy these raw materials from around the world, but mainly from Europe, Asia, and Russia. From Finland we get, for example, rapeseed oil that is used in production. Some 50% of our raw materials are oil based and 20% renewable. Natural rubber makes up most of our renewable raw materials. The majority of raw materials are non-renewable. The only recyclable raw materials are the rubber waste materials from our own production. Each batch of raw materials is tested in our laboratory before it is used in a rubber mixture. Raw material costs comprise 24% of the manufacturing turnover and 59% of the production costs.
In the early stages of production, we follow specific recipes to process the raw materials into rubber compounds that we then use in the manufacture and rubber-coating of tyre components. We test each 200-kg mixing batch in our laboratory before we put it into use. The recipes for the compounds depend on the intended properties of the tyre. Different components require different kinds of rubber compounds.
3. Component manufacture
In component manufacture, we use rubber compounds, textiles, and wires to make various components, like body plies, and the inner lining, bead, core, sidewall, sidewall wedge insert, and steel belt of the tyre. Most of the components are reinforcements, and one tyre may include 10 to 30 different components.
The assembly machine begins to shape the tyre by assembling the components into the carcass and belt package. The carcass side of the assembly machine assembles the inner surface and the sidewall of the tyre and uses reinforcement ply as necessary. The belt side assembles the so-called ‘tread package’, which comprises the steel belt and surface rubber. Then, the machine mounts the cables, turns the sidewalls and rolls the tread package on the carcass package. This results in a green tyre, which is still soft and shapeable.
The assembled green tyres are placed into a curing press, in which the high steam pressure of the curing pad presses the green tyre against the heated mould. The tyres are cured at around 170 degrees Celsius for 8–20 minutes depending on the tyre size. Heavy mining tyres are cured for more than 7 hours. Curing vulcanises the rubber and provides the tyre with the intended properties, such as the tread pattern, sidewall markings, airtightness, grip that affects handling, and low tyre noise. The production of heavy tyres is similar to that of car tyres, except for the curing time.
After curing, we inspect every tyre we produce both visually and by a machine. Tyres require a flawless tread pattern, pure raw materials, and an undamaged, symmetrical structure. Our trained operators inspect the tyre for flaws visually and by feel. Then, the tyre is pressurised in a testing machine and spun to inspect the roundness as well as lateral and radial force variation.
7. Sale, studding, storage, and shipping
The tread of a finished tyre is labelled by machine with the basic tyre information: name, size, load-bearing capacity, speed rating, product code, and EAN code. Specific tyres are studded, and then all tyres are stored. We have our largest warehouses and distribution centres in Nokia, Vsevolozhsk, Ejpovice, and North America, but we have several smaller warehouses in our other important markets. Our tyres are sold in 62 countries by our in-house sales organisation and thousands of client companies. The delivery times range from 24 hours to four weeks. Successful seasons are essential for our business.
8. Good service ensures satisfied customers
At the end of our supply chain, the sales personnel of Vianor and other retailers find the right product for each customer, taking into account the customers' type of car and driving habits, among other things. We use internal and external testing for ensuring the excellent safety and world-class innovations of our tyres. This allows the salesperson to communicate openly and stand by the product that he or she is selling. Vianor plays an important part in product sales and the management of the season. In addition, direct contact with the consumer provides us with valuable information about the hopes and needs of our end-users. We want the users of our products and services to be very satisfied.
The Nokian Tyres’ energy consumption can be divided into electricity, heating and steam. We buy the energy for our factory in Nokia from an external supplier. Renewable energy sources account for 40% of the electricity that we purchase. We use natural gas as the energy source for heating and steam generation. Natural gas is the only energy source used in our Vsevolozhsk factory. We buy the electricity from an external supplier and use our own power station for the energy necessary for heating and steam.
Biomass power plant increases the proportion of renewable sources
Nokianvirran Energia Oy has obtained an environmental permit for the construction of a new biomass boiler at the shore of the Nokianvirta river. The biomass power plant will be commissioned in 2016 and Nokian Tyres is an investor in the joint venture. The energy production unit will supply steam for Nokian Tyres and SCA’s paper mill as well as district heating for the cities of Nokia and Tampere.
The new power plant will primarily use local wood-based fuels, such as wood chips and peat. The boiler is also suited for burning fibre clay and sludge from the Nokia paper mill. The new plant is expected to reduce the use of fossil fuels, i.e. natural gas, in favour of local energy sources in the region. According to initial calculations by Nokian Tyres, the company could increase the proportion of renewable energy sources from the current 40% to approximately 70%.
You can find more information on personnel safety and our accident statistics under the section “Good HR management”!