Bridgestone Corp. plans to increase large and ultra-large OTR tire production capacity at its three-year-old Kitakyushu, Japan, radial OTR tire plant by approximately 20 tons per day.

When the plan is completed by mid-year 2014, the plant will have a capacity of close to 165 tons per day. Its capacity at the end of 2011 was 90 tons per day.

"The increased production capacity will help the Bridgestone Group meet the growing global demand for these products," says the company. Satoshi Yoshizaki is the plant director.

In a related move, Bridgestone also will increase production capacity at its Saga, Japan, OTR tire steel cord plant. The total investment at Kitakyushu and Saga will be 4.7 billion yen, or $60 million.

Bridgestone says demand for large and ultra-large OTR tires "is expected to be strong over the medium to long term due to increased mining production worldwide."

To meet this growing demand, the group not only plans to implement phase three of the expansion of its Kitakyushu plant to start the second half of 2012, but also to build a new plant in Aiken County, S.C. (see "Bridgestone to invest $1.2 billion in S.C.").

Moving forward, Bridgestone says it "will build a production system that can continually respond rapidly to changes in market demand trends."

Shawn Rasey, vice president, Mining Group for the Bridgestone Mining Solutions business unit of Bridgestone Americas Inc., revealed the news at the 2012 Tire Industry Association (TIA) Off-The-Road Tire Conference. The event will run Feb 15-18 at the Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

According to TIA President Larry Brandt, close to 500 people are in attendance. Next year's OTR conference will be held Feb. 20-23 at the Gran Melia Golf Resort in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

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