Bridgestone’s $164 million plant expansion

Bridgestone will spend $164 million upgrading its Wilson plant.

Bridgestone’s $164 million plant expansion

Bridgestone may have ended last year as the loser in the battle for Pep Boys but the company seems to have shaken it off to start the new year afresh.

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations has announced a five-year, $164 million expansion of the company’s North Carolina passenger tire manufacturing plant.

The company said the investment in the 42-year-old Wilson plant was designed to meet market demands, expand production and improve the plant’s competitiveness by introducing newer and more efficient technology.

New technology will increase plant’s capacity

The company said it expected construction to start early this year. Phases one and two, which will total nearly $100 million in value, will focus on the addition of 167,000 square feet of manufacturing space to accommodate new tire assembly machines, materials handling systems, curing presses and associated equipment. The expansion will increase plant capacity by 3,000 tires per day, bringing daily production to 35,000 by 2018.

The company said the new equipment would also allow the plant to “respond to the increase in global demand for higher rim size tires, as well as improve quality and productivity while reducing costs.”

The Wilson plant was the first Bridgestone tire manufacturing facility to produce run-flat tires. Bridgestone’s Wilson Plant manager Michael Darr said production and manufacturing capabilities had to evolve to meet the changing needs of consumers. This year the plant will begin producing the company’s DriveGuard tires, the first full line of premium, all season replacement tires engineered to go up to 50 miles to safety after a puncture.

First major upgrade of award-winning plant since 1999

“Our investment in updated equipment and improved manufacturing processes and facilities reflects our focus on maintaining our global competitiveness, as well as our commitment to the Wilson community,” Darr said.

The Wilson plant was last expanded in 1999 when 85,000 square feet were added to the facility. The plant has won several major awards for its environmental efforts, including three Green Factory Environmental Achievement recognitions at Honda’s annual Environmental Safety and Ergonomics Symposium last year. It was the first tire plant to earn ISO 50001 certification and reach Superior Energy Performance Mature Pathway certification and the first plant in the world to achieve Underwriters Laboratories’ landfill waste diversion claim validation for zero waste to landfill.

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