Ace Laboratories Enters Dynamic Partnership with Seika Machinery and a New Lab: Article

Ace Laboratories enters dynamic partnership with new lab

Ace Laboratories durability testing lab interior

Rubber News photo by Andrew Schunk

Ace Laboratories is maintaining its place at the forefront of material testing with a $1 million investment in a new dynamic testing lab for tires and other rubber products.

RAVENNA, Ohio—A close correlation between what happens in laboratory testing and what occurs in the field is a holy grail of sorts for tire and rubber product manufacturers.

Rewards include drastically reduced development costs and raw material usage, and a faster time-to-market. But getting there poses challenges that require new capabilities.

This is especially true in dynamic material testing, where symbiotic partnerships—such as those that have coalesced at Ace Laboratories between Ace, Seika Machinery Inc. (representing Ueshima machines) and Endurica L.L.C.—are critical to tightening these difficult margins.

"One of our core pieces at Ace—because we do take on the day-to-day testing—is that we want to be on the cutting edge of the testing methodologies that come about," Erick Sharp, president and CEO of Ace Laboratories, told Rubber News during a visit to the Ravenna-based firm.

Ace is maintaining its place at the forefront of material testing with a $1 million investment in (mostly) equipment for a new dynamic testing lab for tires and other rubber products.

The lab in the basement—whirring with Coesfeld, Ueshima and Wallace-brand machines (some of which are using Endurica software)—offers abrasion, friction, cut-and-chip and intrinsic strength analyses, among other services.

Rubber News photo by Andrew Schunk

"Ueshima, Endurica ... they are not the standard type of testing companies," Sharp said. "Now, we have more arrows in our quiver. We want to be on the leading edge ... with leading edge-types of companies."

The reciprocal benefits are evident for this trio in "stocking" the 7,500-sq.-ft. dynamic testing lab, a small part of Ace's spacious facility.

Atlanta-based Seika Machinery has provided its unique abrasion and friction testing machines for the lab, and Endurica, of Findlay, Ohio, brings its durability and failure prediction software.

In turn, Endurica's software improves with the testing data gleaned at Ace Laboratories, and Seika/Ueshima gets valuable exposure for their abrasion and friction testing machines, which are used extensively in tire manufacturing internationally but sparingly in the U.S.

"We are very excited about this partnership," Tim Cappoen, senior sales manager with Seika, said from his office in Atlanta. "Obviously Erick and his team at Ace have a lot of solid connections in the industry.

"We are excited to leverage this and introduce Ueshima instruments to customers in the U.S."

Ueshima has a strong presence with Tier 1 customers in Asia, and its machines are in some tire development centers in the U.S.

But tire makers "are not going to open their doors for a testing demo," Sharp said.

Ace essentially provides a neutral site that is not behind the proverbial firewall, such that the Ueshima machines can be seen and operated.

"Having our equipment at Ace is a great way to grow and get exposure for our product," Cappoen said. "Putting the machine in my office in Atlanta does not do us much good."

Cappoen said he raised the idea of partnering with Endurica with the company's CEO and president, Will Mars, at last year's Tire Society Conference .

"We talked about doing something together," Cappoen said. "We are looking at whether (Endurica's) software could be used with some of the Ueshima instruments that are at Ace.

"This is some exciting stuff that could be coming down the road."

Mars said his 16-year-old firm is a "software company first and foremost," leading the way in durability testing with the time-to-market mantra, "Get durability right the first time."

"But testing is necessary because our software has to have information from testing," Mars said from his office in western Ohio. "Our crown jewels are software (programs), but we need to get our fingers dirty with the testing.

"So it is very natural for us to partner with a testing lab."

Sharp added that Endurica is a "mastermind of simulations and life-cycle predictability."

"And we are trying to be a resource for them on that," Sharp said.