History of Akron Standard®
Akron’s world-famous tire industry was nurtured by small companies that, like Akron Standard, contributed to the sweet smell of rubber that permeated the Akron air throughout the 20th century – as much a part of the city as the Cuyahoga River and wet winters. Akron Standard was one of those small but very important companies; it pioneered the tire-testing machine that has become part and parcel of both the tire and automotive industries. Although it lacked an electric motor and the sophisticated software that has now become commonplace in the industry, the company’s first tire-testing machine was instrumental to the large-scale expansion of the tire and automotive industry in the United States and beyond.
Akron Standard was founded as the Akron Standard Mold Company in 1918. Occupying a building adjacent to General Tire in Akron, Ohio, the company received seed money from Ohio’s venerated O’Neil Family – the original owners of the General Tire Company. For many years, Akron Standard served as the top supplier of machinery and tire molds for the tires designed by General Tire. In 1929 Akron Standard adopted the name ASM and by selling equipment to Cooper, Goodyear, B.F. Goodrich, Firestone, Mohawk, Uniroyal and Seiberling, expanded beyond its original patron. By this time, save for rubber mixers, the company was producing anything and everything used in the tire-building process. Thus, Akron Standard created deep ties to almost every other company involved in Akron’s tire industry.
In 1958 Akron Standard employed 1,500 people. In 1963 the company was purchased by Eagle Picher Industries and, that same year, produced a tire uniformity machine in cooperation with Ford Motor Company.
The first machine was sold to Mansfield Tire, while the second was sold to Sears Roebuck. Ever since, year in and year out, sales of Akron Standard’s Uniformity Machine have far outpaced that of its other products.
Although in 1978 the company employed 850 people, by 1990 its employees numbered only 350. This occurred because the company decided to focus on fewer products than it had in the past. That same year, Akron Standard was purchased by the Illinois Tool Works Company (ITW) and added to its Quality Measurement Group. By the mid-90’s, except for Akron Standard’s famous tire uniformity machine, the company’s entire product line was sold off. Having decided to focus entirely on Akron Standard’s crown jewel – tire uniformity – ITW standardized and in-lined tire uniformity and shortened each machine’s build-time by one third.
In 1997 ITW merged Akron Standard with Micro-Poise and the company became known as ITW Ride Quality Products. Micro-Poise, much like Akron Standard, began life in the early 1900’s and produced balancing equipment for the auto industry. It was purchased by ITW in 1998, and after the ITW transformation focused on one product line, dynamic (spin) balancing machines for the auto and tire industry. Since both the Akron Standard tire uniformity machine and the Micro-Poise balancers were used to ensure an improved vehicle ride, the name Ride Quality Products was adopted.
In 2007 the company changed its name to Micro-Poise Measurement Systems LLC, and has recently relocated to Streetsboro, Ohio.
The history of tire uniformity testing is one of continual technological advancement based on greater and greater automation. Manual settings and analog computing characterized the first units of Akron Standard’s tire uniformity machines. Now, products are digital and run automatically on a Windows-based control system. In turn, accuracy has substantially improved. And because the greater the accuracy, the greater the comfort of the ensuing ride, Micro-Poise customers have been satisfied by these innovations.
Micro-Poise machines are located in plants all over the world and they have worldwide service. In the future the company foresees the ability to monitor every one of its machines from Streetsboro, no matter what country they call home.
Since the 1900s, the tests administered by Micro-Poise machines, which gauge tire attributes that contribute to a smooth ride, have been significantly fine-tuned. From the automotive side of the coin, this is great news: without a uniform tire and a properly balanced tire/wheel, a car would rattle and shake. Therefore, from an auto manufacturer’s perspective, this product is extremely important since it helps provide a smooth ride for their vehicles.
Currently, the automotive and tire industries are undergoing major changes. Yet despite the vagaries of the automotive and tire industries, Micro-Poise knows that people will continue to build tires and test and balance these tires – thus requiring the services of tire uniformity, balance machines and laser measurement systems. Akron Standard now a brand name of Micro-Poise continues to lead the industry with world class test and measurement equipment accurate and reliable providing unique, innovative and value added solutions for our customers.