Tokyo – Bridgestone Corp. plans to invest $250 million (€220 million) through 2018 to strengthen its corporate research and development facilities in Japan, a move that will involve relocating radial passenger and light truck tire production out of the Tokyo plant to other Japanese factories.
The R&D upgrade will involve consolidating all research offices and laboratories, including biotechnology and raw material development, at the Kodaira City complex in Tokyo, Bridgestone said.
Separately, Bridgestone intends to invest $125 million through 2020 at its Hikone, Japan, passenger and light truck tire plant to redesign its production lines, including a shift toward information technology and automation, by introducing cutting-edge technologies and equipment.
This initiative, which the company said should “create value through continuous innovations,” is part of the company’s mid-term 2015 management plan disclosed Oct. 16 in Tokyo.
The Tokyo-based tire maker said its plans for enhancing R&D will encompass biotechnology and raw material development and will include collaboration with outside entities, starting with industry-government-academia partnerships, and developing innovative technologies.
Bridgestone did not specify which, if any, other R&D facilities in Japan will be consolidated at Kodaira or how many employees would be involved. Construction is slated to begin in 2017, with the successive opening of these facilities starting in 2018.
Bridgestone said employment is 462 at the 55-year-old Tokyo facility, where it intends to keep aircraft tire production capacity.
The company is budgeting $250 million for the R&D improvements/consolidation and $125 million to cover relocating consumer tire production out of Kodaira City to other Japanese plants.
Besides fundamental research, Bridgestone said this initiative will involve manufacturing, testing/evaluation and business design.
Under manufacturing, Bridgestone said it will conduct R&D into production lines that make use of advanced information technologies and production technologies that will realize new-concept products.
Under testing/evaluation, the company said its work will encompasses the entire vehicle, not just individual products, in order to verify proposed new value from the perspective of the customer.
Under business design, Bridgestone hopes to create value through integration and design of the above three areas, and propose new business models. Collaborate with universities and other outside institutions and serve as communication base for pilot experiments.
The investment at the 47-year-old Hikone plant is designed to help that unit achieve “Dan-Totsu,” Bridgestone’s strategic goal of becoming the "undisputed world No. 1 tire and rubber company in both name and reality."