By Liz White, ERJ staff
Shenyang, China-Steel tyre cord maker Bekaert confirmed its confidence in the future of the Chinese market during official celebrations 28 Oct to mark a major expansion at its Shenyang, China plant.
Bekaert has doubled capacity of steel cord for radial tyre reinforcement at Shenyang, in Liaoning Province, since May 2003.
Bekaert's other unit in the People's Republic-China Bekaert Steel Cord Cy, in Jiangyin (Jiangsu Province), is its largest steel cord plant in the world.
Construction of a third Bekaert steel cord plant in Weihai (Shandong Province) is also â€œin full swingâ€ Bekaert said. Shandong has many major tyre manufacturers, with new players also entering the market, Bekaert added.
Bekaert said China's transport needs are growing rapidly, and it its investing heavily in infrastructure: the company aims â€œto maintain its position as market leader in steel cord products,â€ both for truck and passengers car tyres.
China wants to bring infrastructure costs into line with those in the west, Bekaert said, and the authorities â€œhave taken very strict measures to combat the overloading of trucks,â€ for example. They also want to use the best means of transport, both for protecting China's infrastructure and encouraging energy efficiency. In the longer term, such measures will lead to an increase in the rate at which consumers switch to use of steel-reinforced radial tyres-hence Bekaert's continuing ambitious investment plans in China.
At Shenyang, the Belgian-headquartered firm claims to have installed, â€œthe technologically most performing and most environment-friendly production lines,â€ at the plant, which began production in mid 1998. The factory makes a wide range of finished steel cord products from wire rod.
Other highly technological products will be produced in Shenyang to meet customers' needs: a line for making fine cord for reinforcing belts is being installed now. Bekaert currently makes these belt cords only in Wavegem in Belgium.