TOKYO — Bridgestone Corp. plans to resume production at most of its facilities in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, India and Africa (EMIA) by the end of the month while at the same time disclosing plans to idle production in Japan.
The tire maker said it will restart production at tire plants in Bari, Italy, and Bethune, France on April 20 and 21, and a retread products factory in Lanklaar, Belgium, on April 20. Bridgestone closed these and other plants globally in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this month, Bridgestone restarted work at its plants in Burgos, Bilbao and Puente San Miguel, Spain, and Ulyanovsk, Russia. Those moves came in response increasing demand from business and customers, and were intended to "to ensure adequate supply."
At the same time, Bridgestone — which earlier idled production at factories throughout the Americas and most of Europe — will phase out production at some of its plants in Japan for up to six days because of "market situation and decline in demand."
The tire maker said it will idle 11 facilities in Japan — including eight tire plants — for up to six days between April 29 and May 8. The temporary shutdowns are scheduled around Japan's three-day public holiday running May 3-6 and are due to what it described as "market situation and decline in demand."
The tire plants affected are in Fukuoka, Hikone, Hofu, Kurume, Nasu, Tochigi, Tosu and Yamaguchi; they will be closed from April 29 to May 8 including the holiday period.
In addition, a steel cord production unit in Saga will be closed from May 1 to 8 and hydraulic hose production at plants in Kumamato and Seki will close May 1-2 ahead of the holiday.
These actions are being undertaken to ensure the health and safety of employees, and come "in response to the needs of customers," Bridgestone said.
Bridgestone plants in India and South Africa will remain closed for now.
In its statement, Bridgestone called the pandemic "severe nonetheless," and emphasized the health and safety of its employees at the reopened plants remains the top priority.
Bridgestone said it continues to follow the guidance and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and government regulations in the countries in which it operates.
In addition, it has implemented "thorough procedures and checklists" in accordance with its protocols for the prevention of occupational hazards to ensure social distancing and adequate protection of its workforce.
Bridgestone said it continues to monitor the health situation and the fluctuation in demand for its products very closely.
European Rubber Journal contributed to this report.