BADALGAMA, Sri Lanka — Specialty tire manufacturer Global Rubber Industries Pvt. Ltd. (GRI) officially opened its state-of-the-art manufacturing plant on Jan. 25, the first facility in the country to produce agricultural tires.
Visitors from more than 35 countries attended the grand opening for the $40 million plant. About 70 percent of the plant's capacity will go to produce agricultural tires, and the rest will go toward producing pneumatic construction tires and forklift tires used in off-road applications.
GRI Chairman Haris Premeratne and Managing Director Prabhash Subasinghe raised the national flag of Sri Lanka, along with Jegan Durairatnam, managing director/chief executive officer of the Commercial Bank of Sri Lanka.
Mr. Subasinghe told attendees he was witnessing his "dream being realized — the first ever state-of-the-art radial agricultural tire manufacturing plant in Sri Lanka, and I can proudly say, we have arrived."
GRI dignitaries planted more than 50 trees at the factory, "with the hope of a better future for the generations to come."
Guests were then taken on a factory tour and could watch the tire-building process.
"We understand the importance and implications of major technological shifts in our industry — the prevalence of (the Internet), the opportunity that machine learning or (artificial intelligence), augmented reality and virtual reality can provide in making better decisions," Mr. Subasinghe said. "We are now well into establishing an innovation lab that will harness many of these technologies to drive our business forward. This new frontier is something that I am deeply interested and passionate about."
GRI said the plant is equipped with "some of the most advanced technologies available" with machines that perform an increased degree of precision, lower operator dependency and greater automation. GRI said these advantages will result in enhanced consistency, higher quality, greater efficiency, reduced cycle times and lower waste.
The new factory is completely self-sufficient, GRI said, and is certified by ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004. It features 1.2-megawatt solar panels, biomass boilers and fully recyclable waste and water management systems.
GRI said it manufactures ag tires with a range of tread patterns, featuring high-load carrying capacity at low inflation pressure, reduced soil compaction, exceptional traction, little vibration and superior self-cleaning properties that the company claims performs well on or off the road.
GRI said its construction tires are characterized by their unique tread designs, machine stability in demanding operations, as well as its special natural rubber compound that offers heat, cut and abrasion resistance.
GRI, which was founded in 2002, does business in more than 50 countries. Its solid tires are now used by original equipment manufacturers and replacement forklifts worldwide. The company also makes solid excavator tires as well as tires for trailers, airport baggage handlers and skid steers.