Natural rubber is one of the essential raw materials used in tire production. The rubber tree grows in Ecuador – surrounded by banana and cacao plantations. Huge plantations are necessary to meet the high demand for natural rubber. And I got the chance to visit such a plantation! There, I got to know the local processes that are applied to extract the rubber from the trees.
I could see the sap coming out of the tree, flowing into a small bowl. Every tree is cut twice per week. The bowls’ contents are manually collected and brought to a production facility. Machines are used to process the rubber. Small portions are then dried in an oven. Having passed the quality control, the natural rubber is finally ready to be transported to the tire factory.
At this point, I would like to thank the local colleagues who showed me around and kindly answered all my questions. Thanks for all your time and patience. Cutting a rubber tree is an experience I will never forget. Thank you!
You might ask yourselves: Why am I in Ecuador?
Well, I’m currently writing my Bachelor thesis in our tire plant in Cuenca, Ecuador. A new work environment, a different language, and the Latin culture can be challenging sometimes. A challenge, however, is exactly what I was looking for.
If there is something you really want to do, go for it! This is something I have often experienced at Continental. So, plan it, organize it. This may be stressful, but – as we say here – vale la pena!