Bridgestone breaks ground for Wilson expansion
Work has commensed for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations (Bridgestone)’s expansion project at its passenger tyre plant in Wilson, North Carolina (Photo courtesy: bridgestoneamericas.com). The 5-year project involvs an investment of $164 million. Bridgestone claims that the 42-year-old, nationally recognised facility is one of its most environmentally sustainable plants. The company plans to install cutting edge technology to expand production capacity and lower costs.
“Today is a momentous day for all of us at the Wilson plant and across Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, as we break ground on this important expansion that will allow us to grow our production and manufacturing capabilities to meet the changing needs of our customers,” said Michael Darr, Plant Manager, Wilson Plant. “We’d like to thank the Wilson community for its support over the last 42 years, and we’re excited to begin this next chapter in our plant’s history.”
The $100 million first and second phases of the project will focus on the addition of 167,000 square feet of manufacturing space to accommodate new tyre assembly machines, materials handling systems, curing presses and associated equipment to increase plant capacity by 3,000 tyres per day, bringing daily production to 35,000 by 2018, Bridgestone Americas said in a statement. The new equipment also will 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 currently manufactures 32,000 passenger tyres a day. It was the first Bridgestone manufacturing facility to produce run-flat tyres, and this year will begin producing the company’s DriveGuard yres, the first full line of premium, all season replacement tyres engineered to go up to 50 miles to safety after a puncture, Bridgestone said.
The Wilson plant is North Carolina’s single largest industrial employer. In 1999 it added 85,000 square feet to the facility. The plant team has achieved numerous safety awards, including marking the safest year in its 42 years of operations in 2012 – a record it broke in 2013 – and certification earlier this year as a Rising Star facility from the North Carolina Department of Labor.