AKRON—Tire makers and other suppliers are working overtime to make certain the Year 2000 Problem won't leave dealers empty handed. But time alone will determine whether their preparations prove sufficient to prevent interruption of the industry's supply lines.
Several tire makers, replying to a Tire Business questionnaire, said they've been working on Y2K for at least three years.
Goodyear, for example, said it expects to spend as much as $100 million testing and preparing the company's information and transaction processing systems. The firm also will spend up to $30 million updating or replacing and testing its date-sensitive manufacturing and operating systems to achieve Y2K compliance.
At the same time, Goodyear has entered into formal communications with its suppliers to determine the extent of Goodyear's vulnerability should those suppliers fail to correct their Y2K problems, and thereby interfere with the tire maker's operations.
The Akron-based firm, like other tire makers, is developing contingency plans for carrying out critical operations should that situation occur. Those plans should be completed by this fall, Goodyear said.
Most suppliers responding to TB's questionnaire, including Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and Continental General Tire Inc., said their order/entry systems for dealers already are Y2K compliant or will be soon.
"Our order/entry systems have been Y2K compliant for a few months," wrote CGT. "All dealer-used systems are Y2K compliant."
BFS said it has implemented a "Year 2000 Readiness" program at its manufacturing, distribution and administrative divisions and facilities in North and South America.
The program began in March 1996. The company's goal is to have all its systems Y2K ready by June 30, 1999.
Conti General has been working with its outsource partner—IBM—to ensure that its systems make the deadline. "We are set up by now. Our internal networking software is Y2K compliant," the company said.
Cooper said it has had "many project teams working on this multi-faceted problem for the last three years."
Michelin North America has designated a team to oversee inventory and to coordinate and convert all operation components necessary to achieve Y2K compliance. This project has included all mainframe, VAX, PC and telecommunications systems, wrote Rich Kornacki, director of information technology and telecommunications.
The tire makers are urging dealers not to put off efforts to get their businesses Y2K ready.
First and foremost, BFS advised, dealers should ensure that their own internal systems—both hardware and software—will be able to read the Year 2000.
"This should include systems in their offices, warehouses and front shops, including their point-of-sale systems,'' the company said. ``The best way to make sure these systems are OK is to test and verify them.''
Tire dealers also should check with their banks, utilities and other companies they deal with to determine their Y2K readiness. ``Knowing the Y2K status of a dealer's business partners will help in preparing for any disruptions of those services,'' BFS said, adding that the Internet is an excellent source for obtaining additional information.
``Dealers need to be conscious of how critical timing is and the necessity to proactively address this issue,'' said Michelin's Mr. Kornacki.
One company that is actively working with its dealers to help bring their operations into Y2K compliance is retreading equipment and materials supplier Bandag Inc.
In addition to surveying more than 1 million lines of software code in its systems, the company's technical service representatives also are visiting dealers to make certain their Bandag production equipment will meet the Year 2000 deadline.
In a letter to its dealers, Bandag recommended they not only contact other vendors in regard to Y2K compliance, but also retain an external consultant to verify the readiness of other software and equipment they use. Officials gave assurances that System Bandag, the company's computerized tire tracking system, was Y2K compliant at the time it was introduced last year.