TOKYO (Sept. 13)--Bridgestone Corp. will spend $237 million over two to two-and-a-half years to install its "BIRD" automated tyre manufacturing system at its Hikone, Japan, tire plant, where production of car tyres 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," the firm said.
Bridgestone said the BIRD--Bridgestone Innovative Rational Development--process automates the entire sequence of tyre manufacturing from processing raw materials to inspecting finished tyres. Previously the firm said the system cuts energy consumption by 40 percent and floor space up to one-third while doubling productivity and improving tyre 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 tyres.
Bridgestone lists the Hikone plant's capacity now as 250 tonnes of rubber consumption daily.