The Sumitomo Rubber tyre production facility. 
Photo: Supplied
The Sumitomo Rubber tyre production facility. Photo: Supplied
Sumitomo Rubber South Africa chief executive Riaz Haffejee speaking at the factory launch. 
Photo: Supplied
Sumitomo Rubber South Africa chief executive Riaz Haffejee speaking at the factory launch. Photo: Supplied
MEC for Social Development Weziwe Thusi at the launch of the Sumitomo Rubber Factory. 
Photo: Supplied
MEC for Social Development Weziwe Thusi at the launch of the Sumitomo Rubber Factory. Photo: Supplied

DURBAN – Sumitomo Rubber South Africa has launched its new, state-of-the-art Truck and Bus Radial (TBR) factory in Ladysmith. 

Sumitomo who are the manufacturers of tyre brands like  Dunlop, Sumitomo and Falken launched the factory on the 2nd of October 2018. 

This second phase of SRSA’s multi-billion-rand investment to upgrade and modernise the plant’s capacity saw an additional injection of R970 million to introduce and manufacture truck and bus tyres locally. 

The second phase investment takes the total investment into the Ladysmith facility since 2014 to over than R2 billion.

Representatives from both government and industry along with the President and chief executive of Sumitomo Rubber Industries,Ikuji Ikeda, had the opportunity to tour the factory. 

Sumitomo's chief executive and President delivered an address and unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of the facility. 

Ikeda said, "Sumitomo Rubber South Africa has been a part of Sumitomo Rubber Industries group company from December 2013 and from then we have worked together to step ahead in various areas of the business, such as safety, Passenger Car Radial tyre production, quality, products, sales channel and people".

The chief executive added that the new facility marks the first time that Sumitomo Rubber Industries has established a Truck and Bus Radial factory outside of Asia. 

Market's potential

Ikeda said that the African market’s potential and particularly the Free Trade Agreement which would support SRI’s business initiatives were some of the reasons that they chose to go ahead with this investment. 

Chief executive of SRSA, Mr Riaz Haffejee outlined the vision and purpose of the TBR facility and the range on offer. 

Haffejee said, "We will be industrialising a total of 24 sizes between our Dunlop and Sumitomo brands, from this year until September 2019". 

Haffejee also spoke about the impact the investment and development of the factory has had on the community. He said, "Following SRSA’s first phase factory investment in 2014 which saw us increase our output of high-quality passenger and sport utility vehicle (SUV) tyres at this plant, the new TBR factory has created growth and a brighter future for the local community". 

19 TBR employees had been sent company’s Miyazaki factory in Japan for training There they were able to develop their technical methodology as well as get an understanding of SRI’s processes and to take this knowledge to shop floor staff in South Africa.

The keynote address at the launch was delivered by the MEC for Social Development, Weziwe Thusi. 

Thusi said, "Sumitomo Rubber South Africa is one of the companies that the province of KwaZulu-Natal is proud of in many ways".

Thusi called Sumitomo's R2,1bn expansion a meaningful contribution to government's goal of creating a strong manufacturing sector. 

Production at the plant started in July 2018. According to the tyre company, the local production of the TBR range will ensure that customers, both in South Africa and on the African continent, have the right tyre for the country’s specific application. 

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