GRANITEVILLE, S.C. (Sept. 18, 2003) — Industry Week magazine has named Bridgestone/Firestone's Aiken County plant in Graniteville as one of the 10 best manufacturing facilities in North America, based on the magazine's annual “Best Plants” competition criteria.
Industry Week (IW) rates manufacturing facilities on a variety of criteria, including: benchmarking; community involvement; customer and supplier relations; employee relations; environmental and safety programs; inventory management; manufacturing operations and flexibility; market results; productivity; quality; and use of technology.
The non-union Graniteville plant was selected from more than 240 facilities nominated between October 2002 and March 2003.
“The people at our Aiken County plant are to be commended for this extraordinary achievement,” said Mark Emkes, president, CEO and chairman of Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, in a prepared statement.
“These plants set the standard for excellence in manufacturing today,” said Patricia Panchak, IW editor-in-chief. “They define the winning strategies for achieving world-class performance.”
“The team members at our facility have worked very hard to make our plant a world class facility. Our belief in continuous improvement will always be a catalyst in the success of this operation,” said Mike Rose, plant manager at Aiken County, which employs 940.
Industry Week singled out the Aiken plant for its team approach to employee relations, its kaizen constant improvement program, its automated manufacturing system and significant and constant reductions in materials inventory, scrap rates and landfill waste.
The magazine also noted the plant's unusual work schedule. Production employees work 84 hours in each two-week pay period—48 hours one week, 36 hours the other, in 12-hour shifts. Every 28 days each worker gets seven consecutive days off in addition to two weekends free per month.
The plant's workers rotate between night and day shifts, eliminating shift pay differentials, the magazine said.
The 1.76 million sq.-ft. Aiken County facility will receive a commemorative plaque at a ceremony scheduled for the afternoon of Oct. 15.
The 4½-year-old plant makes passenger and light truck tires for customers such as General Motors Corp., Isuzu Motors America Inc., Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America Inc., DaimlerChrysler North American Holdings and the North American replacement markets. Operating on a 24-hour-per-day, seven-days-per-week schedule, the plant makes 25,000 tires daily.