Bridgestone Automated Tyre Facility Opens in Hungary
The fully automated 190 million tyre manufacturing facility Bridgestone has built in Tatabánya, Hungary, officially opened for business on April 3. The factory is the first in Europe to feature the tyre major’s BIRD (Bridgestone Innovative and Rational Development) technology and only the second facility outside Japan to do so. Plant production of high-performance and large-rim sized radial tyres for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles is scheduled to reach 8,000 units a day in 2009.
More than 150 guests attended the opening ceremony, including senior Hungarian figures from local, regional and national authorities. Amongst this group of dignitaries was Mr. Ábel Garamhegyi, Hungarian State Secretary, Ministry of Economy and Transport, Mr. János Bencsik, Mayor of Tatabánya and Mr. László Beke, Mayor of Környe. Representatives of Hungary’s national and local media, officials from local organisations in Tatabánya and Környe, and managing directors of neighbouring companies also attended.
This occasion, an important event in the history of Bridgestone’s development in Europe, was led by the company’s top management: Mr. Shoshi Arakawa, CEO of Bridgestone Corporation, Mr. Takashi Urano, CEO of Bridgestone Europe, and senior representatives of Bridgestone’s six other plants and five major sales companies in Europe.
“This plant is vital for our European objective of steady, profitable growth” stated Urano at the ceremony. “It is a showcase of advanced technology and a key asset in our strategy of focusing on high-value-added products in the extremely competitive European tyre market.” Following other addresses from key figures those in attendance then received an overview of the state-of-the-art complex and h watched the fully automated tyre production in progress.
The BIRD production system automates the entire tyre manufacturing sequence from material processing through to final inspection of finished tyres. Bridgestone reports that not only does the procedure raise productivity by nearly 100 per cent compared to existing company production systems, it also brings significant quality gains – especially in tyre uniformity and balance. The production system is compact, able to handle evolving tyre designs, and can handle small batches, says Bridgestone, enabling it to respond to demand changes in specifications and volumes. Most importantly, this Japanese technology minimises the environmental impact of tyre manufacturing.
The 100 per cent Bridgestone Europe owned factory, located on a 66-hectare site, was completed at the end of 2007 and employs around 200 people. Production of passenger car and light truck radials began in January 2008.