TOKYO (Sept. 13, 2004) — Bridgestone Corp. will spend $237 million over two to two-and-a-half years to install its “BIRD” automated tire manufacturing system at its Hikone, Japan, tire plant, where production of car tires using the system should reach 12,000 units daily by early 2007.
Bridgestone's decision comes after a nearly two-year-long test production run demonstrated the system's “mass production worthiness” at a prototype unit at the firm's Tokyo plant, the company said.
Bridgestone said the BIRD—Bridgestone Innovative Rational Development—process automates the entire sequence of tire manufacturing from processing raw materials to inspecting finished tires. Previously the firm said the system cuts energy consumption by 40 percent and floor space up to one-third while doubling productivity and improving tire uniformity and balance. It also handles small production lots efficiently.
Bridgestone said it plans to deploy BIRD initially in Japan to meet growing demand for high-performance and larger diameter passenger tires.
Bridgestone lists the Hikone plant's capacity now as 250 metric tons of rubber consumption daily.