News | Latest Updates on Tires | GRI FIT North America


July 6th,2021.

GRI has built a strong foundation and an excellent reputation over 18 years in the US market. Thus, “despite the pandemic and the resultant restrictions, GRI continues to cater to the requirements of the customer with the business seeing growth during the last year,” explained Mr. Gary Stevens, GRI President ofSales for Material Handling Tires in the US.

While 2020proved to be a challenging year, GRI took steps to ensure continuous supply to the US material handling tire market without any interruptions. “I had frequent online sessions with all the sales teams of our dealers to provide the required knowledge of our products and keep our customers close. We also took steps to have sessions with sales personnel to look at new business avenues. Throughout the pandemic, we ensured that we had sufficient inventory of our products to service our customers’ daily needs,” explained Mr. Stevens of the measures taken to sustain and enable growth in the business amidst the constraints of the pandemic.

GRI has been proactive in its approach and has identified areas in the US market for further expansion in 2021. There is growth in the Original Equipment Manufacturer business, and with GRI now supplying KION Linde forklifts with our premium ULTIMATE XT tires, we see great potential. We also see a futuristic transition to electric forklifts from those powered by internal combustion engines. With the pandemic, e-commerce boomed, which resulted in increased demand for warehouse facilities, forklift and truck operations, and logistics. Thus, there was increased growth in the material handling tire business, and it was essential that we maintained our superior product and service delivery to fulfill this demand.

“We have made continuous efforts to develop our business in the US and adopt market strategies according to the changing environment. Thus, ensuring that customers continuously asked for GRI products. Customers are increasingly seeking solid tires that have consistent quality, longer running hours, lower rolling resistance enabling higher energy saving and increased stability supporting higher safety, which GRI provides because our tires are exceptional. We fulfill our clients’ requirements through our strong product range,” explained Mr.Stevens.

As GRI’smaterial handling tire business sees growth in the future, sustainability will be essential for customers, where tires will have less impact on the environment and a reduced carbon footprint. GRI considers protecting the environment a top priority for the company. “We will promote our sustainability initiatives and also continue to expand our dealer network to enable greater growth in the United States,” said Mr. Stevens on the future direction of the business.

June 30, 2021, Colombo, Sri Lanka: With increasing demand in the agricultural and construction tire segments, GRI introduced new tire sizes and patterns recently to cater to the growing requirements of their global customers.

In the agricultural tire segment, GREEN XLR 95, which is a radial tire for row crop and spraying applications was introduced in the new size 230/95R32. The tire is made using cut and wear-resistant compounds, which increase productivity and ensures an extensive tire life. The rounded shoulder of the tire minimizes field and crop damage, and the inter lug mud breakers provide excellent self-cleaning.

In the GREEN EXseries, several different sizes were introduced. GREEN EX RT100 is a bias tire built for tractors and the new size offered is 23.1-26. This tire is designed for soil preparation and spraying applications. The dual-angle lug design provides all-around capabilities in on and off-road applications. The strong nylon casing offers better power transmission, and the higher number of lugs provides higher traction and stability. GREEN EX FT 1 has been introduced in sizes 6.00-19 and 7.50-20 respectively. Being a bias tire for tractors, its optimized rib design provides an easy drive both on and off-road. The tire enables better directional stability due to its raised center rib. Furthermore, GREEN EX RIB3 has been released in the following sizes, 10.0/80-12, 10.5/80-18, and 11.00-20. These are bias tires built for implementation applications. Features include better roadability and higher productivity due to raised center ribs with optimum angle crisscross grooves. Extensive tire life is ensured due to strong casing with cut and wear-resistant compounds for higher productivity.

GRIP XLR ET 333is a construction and industrial truck tire that comes in sizes 10.00-20 and11.00-20. Features include robust tread design with centerline tie bar providing the ability to withstand rough applications. The strong nylon casing ensures superior tire life and the nondirectional tread provides optimized traction. The GRIP EX MP500 was released in new sizes 18-22.5. The tire has an extensive tire life due to its special tread compound, higher productivity as a result of the unique lug-block tread pattern, and better fuel economy due to the dual strip mud breaker at the shoulder and base.

In this manner,GRI continues to enhance its product line to meet the increasing demand of its customers around the world.

GRI produces high-grade specialty tires that are built sustainably using pure natural rubber in Sri Lanka. Founded in 2002, the company produces material handling solid tires, radial agriculture tires, and construction tires. GRI has operations in9 countries and a business presence in more than 50 countries. In 2018, GRIopened an advanced manufacturing plant in Sri Lanka to produce radial agricultural tires. In 2020, GRI commenced construction of a large mixing facility for tire compounds and in January 2021 began further expansion of its advanced specialty tire plant. GRI ensures its commitment to sustainability and environmental protection through all its operations, products, and processes.

Sustainability is at the core of GRI, as such green manufacturing is a priority for the company. Mr. Ananda Caldera, ExecutiveDirector of GRI, speaks about the many initiatives taken by GRI to ensure green processes in manufacturing, where waste materials are recycled and used productively.

Waste material to generate thermal energy

“The tire industry is one of the highest energy-consuming industries as we use both electrical and thermal energy in reproduction processes,” explained Mr. Caldera. “For many years GRI has used biomass boilers to generate thermal energy and the steam we need to cure tires. For these biomass boilers, we use environmentally friendly alternatives such as the waste material generated by the sawmilling industry called outer planks. More recently, GRI started to use oat husks, which is a waste material from a neighboring and newly opened oats manufacturing plant, as biomass to generate thermal energy. The caloric value of the waste husk is almost the same as the wood waste. For thermal energy fuel we always use waste bi-products such as scrap wood and waste husk, thereby minimizing environmental impact,” explained Mr.Caldera.

Solar power to generate electrical energy

Electrical energy is generated through the solar panels that have been installed on the roofs of the factories, which currently generate1.2 Mega Watts. GRI plans to increase the capacity to 2.5 Mega Watts with the expansion of our new factory.

Recycling water and planting trees

“Water is recycled in our facilities, where water used for washing purposes is treated and reused for maintenance of the landscape around the factory. We have a 24-hour water treatment plant that recycles the water,” explained Mr. Caldera. Treated water is then used as cooling water for machines and other purposes.  As our tire production is dry process liquid effluents are also not discharged into the environment. “It is also our policy that for every tree we remove for factory expansion etc., that we plant two trees. Furthermore, for our employee’s birthdays, we gift them a tree sapling to plant in their gardens. We have planted more than 1,500 trees in and around our factories supporting biodiversity.” explained Mr. Caldera. 

Reusing and reclaiming rubber

The rubber waste that is generated through the manufacturing process is given to the local reclaim rubber industry. Once this rubber waste is processed, GRI repurchases the reclaimed rubber and rubber crumbs to be reused. “The rubber waste essentially journeys a full circle and returns to the factory,” explained Mr. Caldera.

Optimizing energy and environmental managementGRI has received ISO50001 certification for our energy management system and ISO 14001certification for our environmental management system. We receive credit for our energy management system because we use bio and solar energy. Furthermore, GRI uses the most energy-efficient motors so there is no wastage of electrical energy,” explained Mr. Caldera. The energy efficiency certification is only given to factories that have a qualified energy manager heading the energy program. “GRI focuses on energy efficiency from the time of selecting machinery, where priority is always given to machines with variable speed energy motors and low energy consumption,” said Mr. Caldera.  With variable speed drives, the motor operates only at the required speed, thereby saving energy.

“Another green manufacturing step taken by GRI is that we have installed capacitor banks for power factor correction. Total power consumption and demand have been reduced due to power factor correction. It is a noteworthy investment that has reduced energy consumption,” Mr. Calderafurther explained.

“GRI is in constant pursuit of seeking sustainable alternatives to be used in our products and manufacturing processes. We invest inR&D and are continuously looking at ways to reduce our impact on the environment. Our goal is to build tires sustainably and to move forward in making a positive impact on our planet,” said Dr. Mahesha Ranasoma, CEO of GRI.

GRI produces high-grade specialty tires that are built sustainably using pure natural rubber in Sri Lanka. Founded in 2002, the company produces material handling solid tires, radial agriculture tires, and construction tires.GRI has operations in 9 countries, and a business presence in more than 50countries worldwide. Since 2018 GRI has been advancing in the rapid expansion of its specialty tire production plants and tire compound mixing facilities in Sri Lanka as well as its operations in key countries. GRI ensures its commitment to sustainability and environmental protection throughout its operations both locally and globally.

GRI Launches its Most Environmentally Friendly Tire – The ULTIMATE GREEN XT
 GRI reaffirmed its commitment to protecting our planet by launching the ULTIMATE GREEN XT, one of the most environmentally friendly materials handling solid tires in the world.

“Environmentally sustainable growth is our strategy today and for generations to come. We work towards this goal through the way we produce our tires as well as develop new tires. The ULTIMATE GREEN XT solid tire for the material handling industry is a result of our drive to create and manufacture products that are sustainable,” explained Dr Mahesha Ranasoma, CEO of GRI.
The ULTIMATE GREEN XT contains 42.8% sustainable materials, which include bio-sourced, and recycled materials. The tire is built with pure natural rubber, silica, recycled carbon black, and reclaimed rubber from used tires. This novel tire provides a higher energy efficiency due to its 20.4% lower rolling resistance than the current tire. Therefore, using the ULTIMATE GREEN XT tire will result in higher energy saving whether it is an electric forklift or internal combustion engine forklift. Furthermore, this new solid tire also provides higher lifetime as it has 26.6% lower abrasion loss.

The ULTIMATE GREEN XT is a premium-plus material handling tire, built for 24 hours per day, 3 shift operations, enabled by lower heat build-up and higher endurance. The green colour version is a non-marking, high-performance tire developed for all surface conditions and intense operating environments.

“In creating the pioneering ULTIMATE GREEN XT, we not only considered environmental protection by using a high degree of sustainable materials, but we also focused on improving performance such as increasing energy saving of forklifts as well as extending the lifetime of the tire. With innovations such as this, we strive to inspire our industry towards making a positive impact on our planet.” stated Mr. Prabhash Subasinghe, Managing Director, GRI

The tread compound of the non-marking ULTIMATE GREEN XT contains highly dispersible silica and no carbon black, lowering abrasion loss, and thereby reducing particle release into the environment. In the centre and base of the tire, GRI has used recycled carbon black. Natural oil is used instead of petroleum-based oil and GRI has pioneered the use of carbon nanotubes in the black version of the tire.

How ULTIMATE GREEN XT supports the environment

“ULTIMATE GREEN XT goes beyond the norm to deliver the ultimate in sustainability, performance, and efficiency. It was developed over two years and tested rigorously. Powerful and robust, this tire epitomizes GRI’s advanced engineering, research, development, and manufacturing capabilities.” explained Dr Mahesha Ranasoma. “As a responsible organization, we have aligned our activities with the UN Sustainable Development Goals of Climate Action, Responsible Consumption & Production, Life on Land, and Affordable & Clean Energy. The ULTIMATE GREEN XT has been developed in line with these goals and our unique GREEN X Circle, thus reiterating GRI’s commitment to sustainability,” he further added.

“I am extremely proud of GRI for having invented such a visionary and innovative solid tire for its customers. It’s a first on many fronts for the company, the country and the world,” said Mr Harris Premaratne, Chairman of the GRI Board.

GRI plants 450 rubber trees as we launch our “Greening Our Planet” initiative
 GRI has always prioritized social and environmental sustainability and takes the long view, looking beyond the obvious horizon. October 8th, 2021, marked a very important day in GRI’s green leadership as it launched its “Greening Our Planet” initiative by planting 450 rubber trees in the natural rubber estates of smallholder farmers in Moneragala, Sri Lanka.   
GRI’s GREEN X Circle initiative, which was launched in 2019 at Agritechnica in Germany, has gathered momentum during the last couple of years. “Our initial phase was about constructing a strong foundation with the natural rubber farmer in Sri Lanka and connecting with their communities. The broad concept of the GREEN X Circle is creating an interdependent truly end-to-end supply chain from the rubber tree and the rubber farmer to the agricultural farmer who uses GRI’s GREEN EX and GREEN XLR agriculture tires globally, which are manufactured using the rubber produced by the farmer,” explained Dr. Mahesha Ranasoma, CEO, GRI. The vision behind the GREEN X Circle, which is a social leadership initiative is to combine these two farmer eco-systems and nurture the farmer communities to embrace sustainability into their actions whilst paying tribute and recognizing their hard work to keep the world moving. This initiative is the first of its kind in the world.

GRI CEO Dr. Mahesha Ranasoma and a farmer planting a new rubber tree
GRI CEO Dr. Mahesha Ranasoma and a farmer planting a new rubber tree

As the activities to strengthen the Sri Lankan natural rubber farmer connection are accelerating, the second phase of the GREEN X Circle initiative has been initiated. “We are connecting globally with our business partners who are serving the agricultural farmers in their respective markets through a tree-planting program under the theme ‘Greening Our Planet’. This is an important step for us,” explained Dr. Ranasoma. Therefore, with the blessings, support, and sponsorship of GRI customers worldwide, GRI reached a historical milestone by launching a tree-planting program, which saw GRI planting 450 trees together with Sri Lankan farmers on their land.  “We will augment the efforts of this initiative across our global markets by jointly working with our customers to conduct similar programs in their respective countries with the farmers as the next step,” Dr. Ranasoma elaborated further.

The GREEN X CIRCLE team greeting a rubber farmer
The GREEN X CIRCLE team greeting a rubber farmer

GRI’s commitment to society and sustainability is embedded in the company’s Vision, which is “to move humanity towards making a positive impact on our planet” and Mission “to manufacture speciality tires sustainably”. The activities implemented under the GREEN X Circle social leadership initiative are strategically aligned to GRI’s Vision and Mission.

“It was indeed a joyful day for me and the GRI sustainability champions where we spent the day with our rubber farmers to launch the ‘Greening Our Planet’ program in Moneragala. We will keep this momentum in implementing further projects to enable sustainability” said Dr. Ranasoma in conclusion.

"Agriculture, Material Handling and Construction tire range of GRI"

In January 2021, our specialty tire production plant in Sri Lanka celebrated three years and many milestones.

In January 2018 GRI embarked on a new chapter as we opened our advanced specialty tire production plant in Badalgama, Sri Lanka. In March 2018, we produced and shipped the first tires manufactured at this new plant. Producing pneumatic specialty tires for agriculture, construction and material handling industry was an entirely new chapter, technology, and market for GRI.

Built on 10 acres of land, the first phase of the project was a 1.25 million sq. ft. plant with a capacity of 25 metric tons a day. It is the largest plant in Sri Lanka dedicated to making specialty tires and the first in Sri Lanka to produce Radial Agriculture tires.

A special feature of the pneumatic plant is its ability to manufacture 3 – 4 categories of specialty tires across a wide product range. The plant manufactures Agriculture tires, Construction tires, Forklift tires and Skid Steer tires. GRI is currently the only company in Sri Lanka to manufacture Radial Agriculture tires.

“The swift learning curve and the rapid growth with the new plant has been a monumental achievement for us. We developed specifications for each tire covering a wide range of sizes, made samples, tested extensively, repeated as needed and rapidly industrialized each size. It was a massive exercise for all involved. I am proud to say that today, we have industrialized and commercialized over 300 SKUs,” commented Mr. Ananda Caldera, Executive Director of GRI.

“GRI was able to go to the market and win its clientele through a superlative product and service. Today, we have more orders than our capacity and therefore we are expanding our production capacity to 100 metric tons a day,” explained Mr. Caldera.

Dr. Mahesha Ranasoma, CEO of GRI, commented that “We will continue to expand our product range adding more sizes and launching new products in 2021. Innovation is in our DNA. Our skilled engineers, researchers and technical experts make GRI strive forward on innovation covering all fronts of product, process and production.”

“I wish to extend my warmest appreciation to everyone who has worked hard to make this specialty plant a success within such a short time – our stakeholders, our employees, our community and our customers who trusted us. GRI is relentlessly focused on taking high-grade Sri Lankan specialty tires to the world. We are grateful to everyone for being a part of our journey, which is just getting started, and we are excited about the possibilities that are in front of us,” said Mr. Prabhash Subasinghe, MD of GRI.

"Managing Director of GRI, Mr. Prabhash Subasinghe

As we step into a new year, GRI Managing Director Mr Prabhash Subasinghe reflects on 2020 and shares his thoughts and focus in 2021.

When the Rubber Hits the Road: Building Resilience

The world faced one of the most turbulent years in our life time last year. Many companies talk about being resilient, but this is put to test only when you go through a year like 2020.

I am humbled and proud of how resilient we were as people, a company, and a country. Our fortitude drove the way we interacted with society and the way we managed our relationships with our stakeholders. GRI showed an incredible amount of resilience in all facets.

In March 2020, a critical moment of truth dawned as we saw what was happening around the world, wondering how long we could survive. When I now reflect, I realize we not only survived but thrived. I am proud to state that we never closed our manufacturing plants, even during the two-month lockdown in Sri Lanka. We continued operations and served our customers due to the resilience we had built within GRI.

I think we have been an exception to the rule, especially when we see many large companies in Sri Lanka and around the world struggle to maintain their footing. I think we have proven COVID-19 resilience in its truest form. From the way we connected internally and externally to uninterrupted business continuity, we worked hard towards an exceptional outcome in 2020. I am proud of TEAM GRI. And it has been a privilege to work with such an extraordinary and committed team.

Lessons from 2020: Taking Stock

We set out to survive the pandemic in 2020 but we thrived and had a better year than 2019. This is our remarkable story.

The first thing we did was to prepare for the unexpected in advance. In January/February 2020, we were fortunate to foresee some of the worldwide disruptions that would ensue and worked swiftly to get ahead. We looked at everything from cash conservation, operational continuity, logistics, securing raw material, shipping orders, etc. We gathered information required to make fast decisions and had contingency plans for every aspect of our operations that bring GRI’sproducts to life.

The second aspect was connectivity. GRI prides itself on close connections with our people and our customers, conducting business with a personal touch. This is very important to us and is a part of our success. We connect deeply with customers, spend time to understand their needs, and have built relationships that continue for decades. We adapted quickly to the new normal and sustained these connections with our customers. Surprisingly, we are now better connected than ever before due to technology but miss meeting in person.

Connectivity with people and a transparent culture is also a key part of our success and resilience last year. When most companies are still struggling due to circumstances beyond their control, the conditions in our ecosystem have been fortuitous. The resilience we built also helped us capitalize on these circumstances.

Our goal during this crisis was a simple one – to get to the other side. We set out to survive but we ended up thriving.

What’s Next?

GRI is built on a foundation of growth, ambition, and dynamism. We are currently in our best position to grow, integrating vertically and horizontally. We primarily operate on a B2B model, however, we also have nine distribution & service companies in different parts of the world which run on a B2C model.

We have diversified our business, growing from the material handling business to the agriculture and the construction tire business in 2018. The global agriculture tire market is a $10 billion business and GRI comes with a wealth of expertise and heritage. I would firmly say that the next decade is filled with growth opportunities for GRI.

In 2021, we start with our second phase of production expansion and will increase capacity of our new Radial Agriculture Tire Plant to 50 TPD. We will also look at expanding in new geographical areas in 2021 and widen our B2C business footprint worldwide.

Sustainability continues to be an important part of our growth vision. I don’t think sustainability is a choice anymore for businesses. You need to understand its importance and build it into your business. If not, I do not think you have a future, and many don’t realize this. Or they don’t see the value or talk about sustainability as something superficial and not a way of life. Consumer behaviour around the world is changing and no matter what 2021brings, the importance of sustainability will only grow.

Our GREEN X circle, for instance, leans on Sri Lanka’s rich agricultural heritage that spans over 2500 years of sustainable agriculture, and connects Sri Lankan farmers with farmers worldwide. Our manufacturing plants also keep sustainability at its core by minimizing waste, maximizing energy efficiency and incorporating eco-friendly materials in production. In 2020, we were one of the first companies in Sri Lanka to introduce an eco-friendly solid tire into the world.

2021: A Year to Build

We should consider ourselves fortunate. We got through 2020 – one of the worst economic times in the world – and emerged stronger.

We need to be thankful that we have operated without disruption, that our employees are all with us and that our customers have business. Our ecosystems have not just survived but grown in many ways. I think first, we need to be grateful because many people have not had a similar fortune.

I see 2021 as a year of endurance and growth for GRI. Our sector has done well but we must look at the world and global economy at large. Our hope for 2021 is that COVID-19 would end. However, the economic recovery and the aftershocks will take longer to overcome and has already left adverse effects on the world. It will take a few years to rebound to where we were in terms of GDP growth.

I look at 2021 as a year to build and grow on the strong foundation we laid in 2020. Last year was our year of resilience. This year will be our year of rapid growth.

GRI has done well, but I think it is time for us to look beyond and see how we can be more helpful to everyone, inspire greatness and play even a small part to move people towards making a positive impact on our planet.

GRI’s focus on innovation and advancement in research and development has led to its R&D team developing an Eco-Friendly version of its high-performance ULTIMATE XT solid tire.  The GRI R&D team, in collaboration with a team of scientists from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Colombo, has developed the ULTIMATE XT eco-friendly version by replacing petroleum-based oil with natural oil, which is carbon neutral and renewable.

The tire was developed to perform in all surface terrains and harsh working conditions. Test results have indicated that the replacement of petroleum oil with special, environmentally friendly oil has successfully resulted in the superior performance of the tire. The ULTIMATE XT has the capability to run on all surface conditions including, indoor, outdoor, low temperature, high temperature, wet and dry conditions. With this success, GRI will enhance its strategy of manufacturing high performance “Green” Solid Rubber Tires that result in reduced environmental pollution and increased efficiency.

The Premium Plus ULTIMATE XT solid tire is made from top-grade Sri Lankan rubber and engineered to exacting standards, featuring a modern tread design that delivers on low rolling resistance and high run time, thus ensuring longer tire life and conservation of energy.

“All strategic and tactical decisions made by GRI are weighed against its impact on the environment. GRI’s policy is to drive sustainability along with developing Premium Specialty Tires. A key goal at GRI is to contribute to the world that is sustainable, and by doing so, GRI takes into consideration the well-being of not only the current global community but also the generations to come.” Stated Dr. Mahesha Ranasoma, CEO GRI.

Our commitment to sustainability is found in every aspect of GRI. It is of utmost importance and enforced through green policies on raw material, production process, waste management and energy utilization. GRI’s responsibility to sustainability is evident through our solar panel power system that covers the entire roof of our factory, utilization of biomass boilers and fully recyclable waste and water management systems. Our factory is a testament to the pioneering spirit and values embodied by everyone at GRI.

GRI is a leading producer of Specialty Tires from Sri Lanka with offices in 9 countries and sales in over 50 countries around the world. GRI produces high-performance Agriculture, Construction and Material Handling Tires.