Production Starts at Bridgestone’s Kitakyushu Plant
The manufacture of large and ultra-large OTR radials (ORR tyres) commenced at Bridgestone’s new Kitakyushu plant during June, three months ahead of the planned September start date. The tyre major announced that the first shipment of construction and mining tyres took place on June 16.
This facility, located in Fukuoka Prefecture near Japan’s southern tip, is the first new tyre factory opened by Bridgestone in Japan since 1976, when began production at the Hofu plant. By the time Kitakyushu is operating at planned production capacity in the second half of 2012, it will turn out 80 tons of new rubber per day and employ 329 workers. Yoshikazu Seki has been appointed the plant’s first director.
Large and ultra-large ORR tyres are considered by Bridgestone to be “strategic products” due to the significant imbalance between supply and demand that has existed in recent years, the result of increasing global demand for and production of mineral resources. In the medium to long term, comments Bridgestone, this demand is expected to continue to grow, and even during the current global economic recession, sales of Bridgestone large and ultra-large ORR tyres have remained stable. Because of these market conditions, Bridgestone reports it accelerated its preparations and pushed forward the Kitakyushu plant’s start-up so that it could more rapidly meet customer requirements.
Previously, Bridgestone manufactured large and ultra-large ORR tyres at its Shimonoseki plant. Now that production has begun at the Kitakyushu facility, Bridgestone says it will be even better positioned to supply customers throughout the world. Going forward, Bridgestone will continue to increase production capacity of large and ultra-large ORR tyres; by the second half of 2012 it expects the combined output of the two plants will be 30 per cent higher than the current level.
In the future, adds Bridgestone, the company will remain committed to enhancing its line-up of strategic products, including large and ultra-large ORR tyres, and will further increase its efforts to supply products that satisfy its customers.