Manufacturer of the popular Dunlop, Sumitomo and Falken tyre brands, Sumitomo Rubber South Africa, has launched a new, state-of-the-art Truck and Bus Radial (TBR) factory. The factory, based in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, is the first TBR factory outside of Asia.

IMG 3170 SRSA Ladysmith factorySumitomo has invested more than R2 billion in the facility since 2014, upgrading and modernising the plant’s capacity and introducing the local manufacture of truck and bus tyres. According to Ikuji Ikeda, President and CEO of Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI), local TBR tyre production will result in the expansion of business for truck and bus vehicle manufacturers and present opportunities for government related businesses.

“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. Despite the challenges of developing a TBR factory from scratch, the African market’s potential, and particularly the Free Trade Agreement, will support SRI’s business initiatives,” he said at the factory’s launch.

Riaz Haffejee, CEO of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa, added that the company will be industrialising a total of 24 sizes between its Dunlop and Sumitomo brands. He said that 19 employees had been sent for training to the company’s Miyazaki factory in Japan, where they were able to develop their technical methodology and gain an understanding of SRI’s processes in order to transfer this knowledge to shop floor staff in South Africa.

“SRSA must be recognised, not only for its significant investment in plant and processes, but for its commitment to a region outside South Africa’s industrial heartlands, and its contribution towards employment. They have demonstrated how automotive component manufacturers can drive true economic development across the country and the importance of ensuring that a greater level of manufacturing of automotive component happens,” Renai Moothilal, executive director of the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers, told attendees at the factory’s launch.

“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.  SRSA’s total investment in employment, utilities and procurement has doubled since 2014, which has had a direct impact on the town and has served as a catalyst for community development and entrepreneurship,” Haffejee said.


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