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SRI opens ag tire plant in Thailand

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(Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. photos) Unidentified Sumitomo executives and local officials are shown at the opening ceremony for the company's just-completed tire plant in Thailand's Rayong Province.

AMATA CITY, Thailand (April 23, 2014) — Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. (SRI) has inaugurated production of radial agricultural tires at its newest factory, the $126 million dedicated plant in Amata City, in Thailand’s Rayong Province.

Speaking at the plant’s opening ceremony April 22, SRI President Ikuji Ideda said the plant is an integral part of Sumitomo’s “Vision 2020” growth strategy and also will contribute to reducing world hunger by helping to develop Thailand’s agricultural capabilities.

The 1.4 million-sq.-ft. plant is rated at 800 metric tons, or 50,000 tires, a month, a level the company hopes to achieve by year-end 2017. The company did not say what the plant’s employment is now or is expected to be at full capacity.

Besides tires for agricultural equipment, the plant will produce rubber crawlers for combines—used in harvesting rice throughout Southeast Asia—and solid tires for forklifts, SRI said. The company said it has developed proprietary technology, called the “spiral method,” for making steel-cord-reinforced rubber crawlers with “superior durability” and low vibration.

Here's an aerial view of Sumitomo's new Thailand factory. The 1.4-million-sq.-ft. plant is expected to turn out about 50,000 tires a month by the end of 2017.

Sumitomo broke ground on the plant, its first production site for ag tires outside of Japan, in August 2012. It’s located on land adjacent to SRI’s 7-year-old passenger tire plant in Amatai City Industrial Estate in Rayong. Province.

Sumitomo said it is counting on the new plant to enhance its ability to supply tires for agricultural equipment in the growing Thai market along with expanding further its overall agricultural equipment tire business.

The plants operate under the auspices of Sumitomo Rubber (Thailand) Co. Ltd.

The opening ceremony was attended by around 150 people, including Rayong Governor Vichit Chatpaisit and other local officials. Sumitomo was represented by Mr. Ikeda and Sumitomo Rubber (Thailand) President Toru Nagahata, among others.

SRI also is investing $15 million more at the existing Amati City plant to install capacity for radial motorcycle tires, in response to growing demand in Asia for tires for full-size motorcycles. The new capacity of 64,000 tires per month should begin production by January 2015.

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