Roads that are poorly constructed or badly repaired--no roads at all in some cases--extreme topography and temperature ranges, a huge extension of terrain for off-road driving ... it all makes Latin America a difficult region. And not only for logistics, but for fires too.
"The conditions on our highways are very different from those of Europe and the United States," Jaime Szulc, president of Goodyear Latin America, tells Latin Trade.
And thinking of the region Goodyear has met these very special challenges by designing some special products. Tires using AquaMax technology include a composite that improves adhesion and improves maneuverability whether roads are wet or dry.
FuelMax tires, which are new to Latin America, save fuel as a result of their low-rolling resistance. Goodyear reckons that what one of these tires saves in a lifetime amounts to the equivalent in fuel of what it costs to buy a full set of fires.
Szulc explains that Goodyear has a history of innovation. It has always been on the lookout for the latest material or product, and the Latin American subsidiary sticks to that tradition. Latin America was, in fact, the first region of the multinational to set up an innovation department.
That achievement, together with others in terms of management and resource handling, won the Utah State University's prestigious Shingo prize for operational excellence. "We're the only Goodyear plant in the world that won it," Szulc says proudly.
Technological innovations are also developed for use within production plants and company processes. Goodyear plants in Brazil have not dumped any residues into the natural environment for the last seven years. In addition, 100 percent of the water used in production processes is recycled.
The spirit of innovation is not limited to the laboratory, adds Szulc. It has reached the management process, creating "solutions that are different business models".
Szulc is still surprised by how much has changed in the region--including fabulous levels of growth in gross domestic product--when he returned a couple of years ago after working for several years in Europe. Those last 15 years of change also include radical changes in the way of doing business in the tire sector, he adds.
"With the latest cars came a new degree of complexity," he says. "It used to be that each market was...