MONTREAL — Digitization and connectivity are the future of the auto industry, extending to tires and their ever-changing relationship with the road, says Michelin CEO Florent Manegaux.
Michelin no longer makes “just tires,” Manegaux told Automotive News Canada. “We are a mobility company.”
Manegaux said Michelin has developed road signs in France and made digital road maps for Google.
“Michelin invented the air suspension at Citroën when we were the owners of the brand. We have marketed the famous Michelin Guides that are globally recognized.”
“We are no longer just a tire manufacturer.”
Michelin is under way in its digital transformation to fully enter the 21st century, he said, which includes technological innovation, new management methods, acquisition of startups and more.
“Michelin is very involved in digital, with the desire to put it at the service of the people with more sustainable mobility. We are working on innovations that are moving in this direction.”
TOOLS FOR MOBILITY
He said Michelin’s goal has always been to offer “the best way forward, to propose the tools of effective mobility. We are facing a world and a clientele more and more connected.
“Today, the digital world impacts every level of the company and most of its processes. It allows us to enter into a deeper relationship with our customers, and our employees to better take charge of their career development.
Manegaux said Michelin is equipping factory workers with connected bracelets and augmented reality glasses to help solve problems.
“So many tools that allow our operators to devote themselves to their know-how and to give all their value,” he said. According to the company’s website, there are three tire plants in Nova Scotia and 3,200 employees in Canada.
But Michelin realizes that it cannot make the move to digital alone and wants to work with the industry overall to attain zero global automotive emissions by 2050.
Formerly known as the Challenge Bibendum, the Movin’ On conference has taught the basics of sustainable development that are now applied at all levels at Michelin since last year, and has become a key event for players in this field, including start-ups, city governments and universities.
“We have developed an open-lab ecosystem of more than 200 entities working throughout the year within communities of interest on a collaborative platform to address the challenges of sustainable mobility.”
Michelin wants to create common bases that will serve everyone “in order to align corporate values with fertile soil.”
For example, he said, Michelin developed for Porsche the Michelin Track Connect, a sensor that allows drivers to monitor their tires, telling them when to go easy on them or alternately, when best to accelerate. “Thus, it optimizes the life of the tire and improves its performance,” he said. The device is adaptable to all types of vehicles.
In the mining industry, “our sensors control the temperature, pressure and condition of the tires.
“In the agricultural sector, we are developing tire chips coupled with automatic inflation management systems that control the pressure and therefore the contact surface between the tire and the ground, the challenge being to maximize yields by minimizing soil erosion.
“I can tell you that in the end, everything will be digital at Michelin.”