Submitted by Bridgestone Americas
Bridgestone EMEA announces today it is investing €36 million to digitise its manufacturing operations and create the smart factories of the future. From 2019 onwards, the project will enable Bridgestone EMEA to respond faster and more flexibly to evolving customer demands, while enabling production to use less energy and produce less waste. The investment will also see Bridgestone employees in EMEA upskilled to operate industry-leading digital technologies, that will subsequently help to improve resource efficiency and job satisfaction.
Improving efficiency, flexibility and sustainability
The €36 million smart factory project will see the full production process – covering manufacturing semi-finished products, energy supply, maintenance, production monitoring and production planning – transformed across eight European plants, across Poland, Hungary, Spain, Italy and France. These will benefit by saving energy, increased efficiency, reduced waste and simplified processes.
The first of these projects to be launched, ‘Smart Energy’, optimises the plants’ energy consumption and costs, which will allow energy savings of approximately 10 percent to be made. The ‘Smart Energy’ system creates a link between the production plans and energy consumption, and modelling these will optimise the energy requirement of tyre production.
The digitalisation of the plants will enable the data from tyre production to be stored, analysed and used by Bridgestone engineers in both Rome and Tokyo, to help design new and improved tyre models. Those new tyre model designs will be returned to the plant in a digital format, which will cut the production time of the first series of the new tyres in half.
Digitalisation will also play a major role in improving Bridgestone’s production efficiency by enabling the smart maintenance of the plants’ facilities. Artificial intelligence will be used to analyse data and forecast potential faults in machinery. The system will measure and analyse key parameters of the machinery with the help of sensors, and automatically suggest maintenance to avoid costly malfunctions. This new process will also help to optimise the planning of maintenance cycles.
The smart factory investment will also help to reduce the waste produced by Bridgestone EMEA across Europe. A stream of data on the production performance will be sent to a cloud-based database, where a purpose-built algorithm will look for connections between the production parameters and the features of the manufactured tyres. The results will be automatically forwarded to the on-site teams, who can then immediately take action and significantly reduce the number of production rejects.
Finally, the logistics processes of the Bridgestone plants will also be considerably simplified. The introduction of smart materials technology will mean that the plants’ specialists can digitally track and manage the path of prepared materials and semi-finished products within the plant. This will drastically simplify production planning and administrative processes, from mixing materials to warehousing.
Making Bridgestone EMEA future-ready
This €36 million investment comes following the success of Bridgestone’s earlier initiatives to digitise the tyre production process, such as the use of EXAMATION. EXAMATION is Bridgestone’s AI-based, high-productivity manufacturing technology, which measures and checks the quality parameters of tyres at 480 points – collecting 700 MB of data per tyre.
The investments will go hand-in-hand with training of the plant operators to master the correct handling of the latest digital technologies and maximise the potential of the investments. The dashboards and insights delivered by the smart factory will allow them to better steer and optimize the production process and ultimately contribute to greater autonomy and job satisfaction.
Adolfo Llorens, VP Manyfacturing Bridgestone EMEA, commented: “This smart factory project will go a long way in making Bridgestone EMEA future ready. Not only will our processes become more efficient and more sustainable, but they will also lead to better products. For example, the digital machines we’ll be using apply algorithms that check the quality parameters of the tyres produced to improve the evenness of quality by 15 percent. I really can’t wait to see how this project evolves over the next four years.”
Director of PR and Communications
Bridgestone in EMEA: +32 478 78 26 22
About Bridgestone in Europe, Middle East and Africa
We're the EMEA business of the world’s largest tyre and rubber company. For almost 90 years, we've been providing the confidence to get people and goods where they need to go as conveniently as possible, without interruption. That’s as true today as ever and means we’re trusted where it matters most: where the vehicle meets the road. We’re brilliant chemists, engineers and data scientists with some of Europe’s most advanced factories and world-beating technology. We’re uncompromisingly focused on providing real solutions to the real problems that drivers face on the road every day. We keep them going, no matter what.
Nashville, Tennessee-based Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) is the U.S. subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, the world’s largest tire and rubber company. BSAM and its subsidiaries develop, manufacture and market a wide range of Bridgestone, Firestone and associate brand tires to address the needs of a broad range of customers, including consumers, automotive and commercial vehicle original equipment manufacturers, and those in the agricultural, forestry and mining industries. The companies are engaged in retreading operations throughout the Western Hemisphere and produce air springs, roofing materials, and industrial fibers and textiles. The BSAM family of companies also operates the world’s largest chain of automotive tire and service centers. Guided by its global corporate social responsibility commitment, Our Way to Serve, the company is dedicated to improving the way people live, work, move and play in all of the communities it calls home.
Understanding that Serving Society with Superior Quality is our heritage and our mission, and embracing our responsibility to future generations as a global leader in our industries, Bridgestone and its teammates around the world employ innovation and technology to improve the way people move, live, work and play.
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Through innovative technology, Bridgestone is committed to providing easier, safer, smoother and more seamless mobility for its customers. Building on the enthusiasm of its employees to connect with people worldwide, the company is also focused on building safer and healthier communities, and improving access to education. With regard to the environment, Bridgestone continues to work toward a sustainable society by operating in harmony with nature, valuing natural resources, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
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Through innovative technology, we are committed to easier, safer, smoother and seamless mobility for our society and customers.
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