We are super elated to be awarded NEA’s OTR Tyre Tender released in 2020. But what exactly are OTR Tyres? Most of us relate tyres to car tyres or technically known as Passenger Car Radial Tyres (PCR). These are our daily vehicles mainly used for transportation. There are many other categories of tyres and we deal mainly with commercial tyres. One such category is known as Truck and Bus Radial tyres (TBR). As its name implies, TBR tyres are designed for trucks and buses, including dumper trucks, prime movers and flatbed trailers etc.
The awe inspiring and heavy weight of the tyre industry has got to be the Off-the-Road (OTR) tyres. They are typically used by heavy machineries you find in construction sites. These include earthmovers, compactors and crane trucks. OTR are thus built to sustain colossal weight requirements because of the environment they are used in. And the monstrous versions, which can be twice the height of an average person, are used in mining sites. As you can imagine, OTR tyres can only be installed with heavy lifting equipment.
In Singapore, you won’t find mining vehicles, much less OTR mining tyres. The most common OTR tyres are used in construction sites. But they are also in less seen areas such as heavy metal management, sand and aggregate ports and waste management sites. These sites usually require the movement of heavy items that would require the use of say an earthmover machines.
One of the heavy uses of OTR tyres can be found on one of our offshore island located at the southern tip of Singapore – Semakau Island. This island is being managed by NEA and is Singapore’s first and only offshore landfill. Refuse in Singapore are incinerated in 4 different incinerators in Singapore. The ashes are then transported to Semakau Island. The ashes can weigh up to 1400 ton in a day! So you can imagine the amount of work required to manage Singapore’s waste. And this is the reason why NEA put out a tender for OTR Tyres as they use a lot of heavy equipment to manage these wastes.
Screen Grab off Google Map
In December 2020, Ling Boon Keng Tyre was privileged to be awarded a tender by NEA for their OTR tyre requirements. They procured these tyres for their heavy machineries such as wheel loaders, 35-tonne dump trucks, bulldozers and compactors. Specifically these machines use 26.5R25 and 23.5R25 OTR tyres. Their main role is to load and unload ash and to deposit them into the cells.
NEA OTR Tyre Tender
Upon receiving the tender award confirmation, we immediately activated our partners to procure the OTR tyres. We encountered some challenges due to the pandemic. The first critical issue was the price of rubber. It has been surging since the middle of 2020.
Price of rubber (extracted from www.statista.com)
In or around June 2020, the price of rubber (per kg) was USD1.40. This had shot up 64% to USD2.30 by November 2020 and it would rise further by January 2021. This inadvertently exerted pressure on tyre prices. Not only just for OTR, but across the board for other tyre categories. Ostensibly more so for OTR as it requires more rubber compound to manufacture. In order to ensure we manage our costs and profit margins, we had to negotiate and lock in our prices with the manufacturer so that we can lock in our tender prices for the OTR tyres for NEA.
Shortage of Containers
The next challenge we faced was that of sea freight. The COVID19 pandemic has caused issues in container turnover at ports. This resulted in bottlenecks in majors ports around the world and caused shipping rates to jump 3 to 4 folds. This adds another layer of pressure to margins. What used to cost a few hundreds had jumped to 4 digits , some as high as SGD1,000 to SGD2,700. Barring the shipping fee increases, booking a slot was paramount to ensure timely delivery. We are thankful to our freight forwarders and suppliers for assisting us to manage costs as well as secure a slot for us so that we could avoid delays during the OTR tyre delivery.
Container shortages due to COVID19 pandemic
And of course COVID19 itself presented it’s own set of challenges. Thankfully over the last 11 months, we have adapted well to the government’s regulation and put in place a series of safe management practices to mitigate the risk of transmission within our workforce. We even put out our own COVID19 Advisory to our customers informing them of our safe practices measures.
Unloading OTR Tyres
As mentioned, OTR tyres are huge and are massive in weight. A 40FT container can contain only about 30 to 50pcs of these OTR tyres depending on the size. We are used to ordering 20FT containers for our OTR requirements as it would be manageable to unload the OTR tyres. But as NEA tender was for a larger volume, we had to bring in a 40FT container this time round. Due to the size and weight of the OTR tyres, our tyre technicians had to first ensure personal safety and then the integrity of the tyres during unloading. With our experience and some innovation from our guys, and were able to unload the tyres without any incidents.
Arrival of our 40FT OTR Tyres
Tyres stored in the innermost section proved the trickiest to unload
Shipping to Semakau Island
While we have been supplying and installing OTR tyres for our customers, this was the largest single order we have had to prepare by far. Even our own trucks were insufficient to transport them to Semakau. We had plan ahead of time to ensure we could find the necessary partners to transport these tyres to Semakau Island. Cost was a major factor considering we had to transport trailers across the sea to a sister island.
Our workers loading the OTR tyres
Getting ready to move off
The ride to Semakau Island was an adventure in itself. Whilst most of us are used to the tourist boat ride, we got to experience shipping long trailers onto a tug and barge boat. It was an invaluable experience had it not for the task we had at hand. The sheer size of the barge was quite humbling to say the least. With good weather on our side, we were able to coordinate with all our partners smoothly and this part of the logistical plan went ahead smoothly without any hiccups.
Securing the trailer
On route to final destination
Barge transporting the trailers over waters
Once we reached Semakau Island, the final step was to unload the tyres for storage. NEA staff were very professional and efficient at this. With a proper storage plan and right equipment, the team onsite were able to unload the tyres in a short amount of time.
Transporting OTR tyres to storage area
Singapore's Waste Management Efforts
We got a first hand experience visiting this beautiful island. Believe it or not, Semakau looks more like our East Coast Park than you would imagine an offshore landfill would be. This is not by accident but due to careful design and planning by NEA. As of this writing, Semakau landfill is projected to be filled up by 2035. Therefore it is important that Singapore manages its waste efficiently and for the population to reduce waste by implementing the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. At Ling Boon Keng Tyre, we do our part by moving away from paper operations to eOperations. For example, we’ve ceased sending hardcopy invoices to customers thereby reducing our need for paper products. We digitize our workflow and only send eInvoices to our customers. We will continue to find ways to play our part in implementing the 3Rs to compliment NEA’s effort to manage Singapore’s waste.