Sumitomo Rubber’s truck and bus tyre plant starts production
Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (SRSA), manufacturer of the Dunlop tyre brand, has officially started production at its truck and bus radial (TBR) tyre manufacturing plant in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal.
Japanese company Sumitomo Rubber Industries, the world’s fifth-largest producer of automotive tyres and industrial rubber products, acquired a South African tyre manufacturing plant in December 2013, resulting in the birth of SRSA.
The acquisition facilitated the procurement of an established manufacturing location in Africa, as well as control of the Dunlop brand rights for the entire continent.
In 2014 SRSA announced the first phase of a multibillion-rand investment, focused on the upgrading and modernisation of the plant’s capacity, and introducing new technology and equipment aimed at increasing manufacturing output of passenger and sports-utility vehicle tyres.
In 2016 a further R970-million was injected into the underutilised land adjacent to the existing plant, with the purpose of enabling SRSA to introduce and manufacture TBR tyres locally.
The factory employs 1 060 people, with more than 80% of the workforce hailing from Ladysmith and surrounding areas. Employment has been created for 193 additional employees since the start-up, including 118 in-service trainees, learnerships, graduates and apprenticeships.
The factory aims to eventually have the capability to manufacture enough tyres a day to meet TBR customer demand of Dunlop and Sumitomo branded tyres for both the replacement and original equipment market across the whole of Africa.
SRSA does not state what this volume would be, neither does it divulge current production volume.
“The total size range will be completed by September 2019, however, our customers will not have to wait until this period to experience our top of the range TBR product, with sales of TBR tyres set to commence in the fourth quarter of this year,” says SRSA CEO Riaz Haffejee.
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