Bridgestone to Use New BIRD Production System
Bridgestone Corporation has announced that it will introduce a ‘next–generation’ production system to the company’s Hikone Plant. The new system, known as BIRD (Bridgestone Innovative & Rational Development), will go into operation in January 2005. From processing raw materials to inspecting the finished product, BIRD is designed to automate the entire tyre manufacturing sequence. Bridgestone has earmarked 26 billion yen (£132 million) for investment in the BIRD production line at the Hikone Plant, Shiga, central Japan. That investment will take place in stages from 2004 to early 2007.
The management decided to deploy BIRD commercially after a prototype system proved its mass-production effectiveness. Bridgestone will construct a new building at the Hikone Plant, in order to house the new system. When the system is operational its production volume will gradually expand until it reaches its target production level of 12,000 passenger car tyres a day. This is expected to happen by early 2007.
According to Bridgestone, Bird is the world’s most thoroughly automated tyre production system and is more compact than the newest systems that Bridgestone currently operates. BIRD is designed to accommodate evolving tyre structures and support improvements in quality and productivity while minimizing the environmental impact of manufacturing. Something that is equally important to the company is the new system’s effectiveness at handling small production lots. For the company this is an opportunity to respond flexibly to the demand for any specification and in any volume.
Initially Bridgestone plans to use deploy Bird in Japan to serve what it describes as “growing local demand for passenger car tyres in high-performance specifications.” In the future, Bridgestone management plans to use BIRD as a mainstay of Bridgestone Group manufacturing.