Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. will boost car and light truck tire capacity this year at three of its four U.S. plants ``to meet the steadily increasing demand for the company's tires.''
The Findlay-based tire maker will invest $32.1 million at its plants in Albany, Ga., Texarkana, Ark., and Tupelo, Miss., to boost annual capacity by more than 2.4 million units. A measurable portion of the new capacity will be for larger rim diameter (17-inch and greater) tires, tying into Cooper's performance tire-oriented strategy launched last year.
Cooper said the investment capitalizes on its lean manufacturing initiatives, which enhance efficiency and improve quality while also reducing waste. The investment includes the purchase of new tire building machinery and curing presses; the expanded capacity will create 116 new manufacturing jobs, Cooper said.
Cooper will invest $19.4 million at Albany for a new tread line, 16 new curing presses and four new VMI tire building machines. The expansion will add 1.39 million units of new capacity, raising the plant's annual capacity by nearly 14 percent to more than 11 million units, or about 32,500 units a day. Fifty-six jobs will be added.
In October, Cooper signed an outsourcing agreement with China's Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. to make Cooper's radial medium truck tires, which are currently produced solely at the Albany plant, in China.
Cooper will spend $5.2 million at Texarkana to boost capacity by 560,000 tires annually, or about 4 percent, to nearly 15 million units. Included in the investment are eight new presses, additional tire-building equipment and cell modification changes that will allow the plant to make larger diameter ultra-high performance tires. The company also will add 25 manufacturing positions there.
Cooper's plant in Tupelo will get a $7.5 million investment for six presses, increasing capacity 511,000 units annually, or about 3 percent, to more than 15.5 million units. The plant will hire 35 new employees to support the increased production volume, according to a company statement.