FREEPORT, Ill.-Goodyear is implementing a program to expand radial farm tire production at its Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. division's plant in Freeport. The $8.7 million project consists mainly of increasing the plant's shift schedule and adding new tire-building equipment, though some additional floor and warehouse space also has been added.
Goodyear expects the expansion to enhance its service to the agricultural community, said Tom L. Ford III, general manager for farm, Terra-Tire and off-the-road tires.
``Back orders have been nearly eliminated by the production increase, and all rear radial farm sizes needed for the summer's farming activities are readily available,'' Mr. Ford said.
As part of the expansion program, Goodyear began two 12-hour weekend shifts in February at the 1.25 million-sq.-ft. farm tire facility. The plant's mixing unit had implemented weekend shifts last November.
The additional shifts add 180 workers and bolster the plant's employment roster to about 1,700.
``We're running 24 hours a day, seven days a week,'' a company spokesman said.
The addition of the weekend shifts will increase the plant's capacity by 15 percent, he said. The facility's capacity will reach nearly 30,000 units per day when the expansion project is completed.
Goodyear expects the increased capacity to keep up with demand in the farm tire market, which has grown 18 percent from last year, the spokesman said.
``We are confident the farm tire market will continue to move to radial products, and we are willing to invest the money to meet the needs of our farm tire customers,'' he said.
The Freeport plant produces 95 percent of Goodyear's farm tires.