News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

September 18, 2020

Bridgestone closing French tire plant in 2021

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Rubber Chemicals, Tires — Notch @ 1:44 pm

On September 16, Bridgestone Corporation announced plans to cease production at its 60-year-old passenger tire plant in Bethune, France in 2021. The company said the decision came in response to the challenging long-term outlook for the European passenger tire market, and that the closure represents the only viable path to safeguard the competitiveness of Bridgestone’s operations in Europe. All manufacturing operations at the site would cease, affecting 863 workers.

The current industry context for passenger tyres is threatening Bridgestone’s competitiveness in the European market. For the last several years, the market for passenger tyres has been facing strong headwinds – even without taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The passenger tyre market has seen its volumes stabilize over the last few years (average annual growth < 1%) while competition from low-cost Asian brands continues to increase (market share of 6% in 2000 increased to 25% in 2018) leading to general production overcapacity. This has resulted in pressure on pricing and margins, as well as overcapacity in the Low Rim Diameter segment, given a declining demand in LRD. And within Bridgestone’s overall European footprint, the Bethune plant is the least well positioned and least competitive.

Over the last years, Bridgestone has taken several measures, including attempts to increase the competitiveness of the Bethune plant. These have proven to be insufficient and Bridgestone has been losing money on tyres produced in Bethune for several years. Considering the current market dynamics, no improvement in the situation is foreseeable.

The decision drew immediate protest from the union and workers, who protested outside the plant the day following the announcement.

August 24, 2020

Bridgestone to close tire plant in South Africa

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Rubber Chemicals, Tires — Notch @ 9:41 pm

Last week, Bridgestone announced a plan to close its bias tire manufacturing plant in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The closure is in line with the company’s recently announced strategy to focus on premium profitable growth segments of its business. Bridgestone Southern Africa (BSAF) has initiated a Section 189 notice and a consultative process in compliance with the South African Labour Relations Act.

Bridgestone said that the Port Elizabeth plant, which is 84 years old, is specifically geared towards the production of older bias tires, which are globally in decline and being phased out in South Africa as it is an unprofitable market. The effects of a shrinking economy and an influx of cheap imports compounded by rapid changes in the tire industry has prompted BSAF to restructure its operations. The agricultural industry is shifting to radial tires, which are longer lasting, and the production of which is modern and high-speed. Converting the plant to produce radial tires would require a substantial investment that is not feasible in the current economy. The move will affect 252 employees. A second Bridgestone factory in Brits, South Africa, will remain in operation.

March 30, 2020

Prinx Chengshan Tire inaugurates Thai tire plant

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Rubber, Rubber Chemicals, Tires — Notch @ 9:03 pm

Amid all the plant closures, some good news. Tire Business reports that Prinx Chengshan Tire has inaugurated production of truck tires at its new $300M plant in Chonburi, Thailand. The plant was completed one year after breaking ground and a few months ahead of schedule. Workers at the plant began production on March 25. Capacity is 800,000 unit/year at full capacity. The company also plans to add 4M units/year of capacity for PC/LT tires.

March 20, 2020

Bridgestone suspending production in North & South America

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Rubber Chemicals, Tires — Notch @ 2:55 pm

Bridgestone Americas is suspending production at its 15 factories in North and South America beginning March 21. All facilities plan to resume normal operations on or before April 12. The company will continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust response plans and activities as necessary. Bridgestone said it has sufficient inventory to meet current demand. The temporary shutdown also will help to align supply to projected demand.

 

Pirelli suspending production in Georgia and Romania

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Rubber, Rubber Chemicals, Silica, Tires — Notch @ 2:17 pm

Pirelli Tire North America plans to suspend operations at its factory in Rome, Georgia due to concerns about the coronavirus. Pirelli plans to scale back production for one week beginning March 22 and then suspend production for one week beginning March 29. The factory will be cleaned and sanitized while closed. The week of curtailed production will allow the plant to meet demand while operating with fewer employees present. The reduced production also corresponds to reduced demand. Capacity at the Rome plant is 400,000 PC tires per year.

Pirelli also announced on Thursday that it as suspending production at its plant in Slatina, Romania from March 23-31.

March 19, 2020

Goodyear suspends production at European, North and South American plants

Filed under: Carbon Black, General, Rubber, Rubber Chemicals, Silica, Tires — Notch @ 1:17 pm

In an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19, as well as response to related market decline, Goodyear is suspending production at its North and South American tire, retread and chemical plants through at least April 3. The decision affects 13 factories in Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and the United States. Some 17,000 workers will be affected. Goodyear is also suspending operations at its European tire and retread plants beginning around March 20th and continuing through at least April 3.  Goodyear operates 11 tire plants in Europe, located in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, and Slovenia. The move affects some 12,000 workers.

March 18, 2020

COVID-19 impacts global NR consumption

Filed under: Rubber, Rubber Chemicals — Notch @ 2:17 pm

According to the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries, a sharp decline in demand in the first two months of the year has impacted global production and consumption figures.   The association has revised downward its figures as China’s manufacturing has been severely disrupted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  The association also expects further downward revision in light of the anticipated economic slump due to COVID-19.

Denka revises fiscal year outlook after rubber sales drop

Filed under: General, Rubber, Rubber Chemicals — Notch @ 2:16 pm

Japanese chemicals company Denka Corp. expects significant sales decline of its chloroprene rubber for the fiscal year 2019, due in large part to the U.S.-China trade war and the weak global economy.  Plunges in raw material prices also caused downward revision of sales prices of stryene-based products, and Denka expects the decline in CR sales to continue.  Denka asserts that the U.S.-China trade dispute, coupled with the current Coronovirus outbreak, is causing uncertainty for the future global outlook and recovery could take time.

Conferences, expos and meetings rescheduled due to Coronavirus outbreak

Filed under: Auto, Conferences, General, Rubber, Rubber Chemicals, Tires — Notch @ 2:15 pm

The following conferences, expos and meetings have been postponed and/or rescheduled due to the coronavirus:

  • As of March 17, 6 pm, the Latin American & Caribbean Tyre Expo and Latin Auto Parts Expo has rescheduled the joint event from July 14-17 to Nov. 17-20 at the recently opened Amador Convention Center in Panama City.  Organizers expect over 400 exhibitors.  Contact Linda Bassitt, president of Latin Expo Group, at linda@latinexpogroup.com for more information.
  • As of March 17, 4:10 pm, the International Silicone Conference has been rescheduled from May 13-14 to Nov. 9-10 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, at the Sheraton Suites Cuyahoga Falls.  For more information, go to the conference website.
  • As of March 17, 11:53 am, the Fort Wayne Rubber and Plastics Group has postponed its April 8 meeting at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.  A new date is TBD and will be be “available soon.”
  • As of March 17, 10:47 am, Federal Corp’s factories in Taiwan continue to operate at normal capacity, implementing “stringent safety measures” and “precautionary protocols.”  Domestic travel for employees has been suspended.
  • As of March 16, 4:52pm, Marangoni Tread North America remains operational.  Marangoni is following CDC recommendations and will closely monitor and evaluate the situation.
  • As of March 16, 12:03 pm, NAHAD canceled its upcoming annual convention.  More details can be found here.
  • Late last week, the ACS Rubber Division canceled its Spring Technical Meeting.
  • As of March 16, 10:48 am, the American Coatings Show and Conference scheduled for March 31 through April 2 was postponed.  New dates will be announced soon and organizers are hoping to keep the show at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.  For more information, contact, acshow@paint.org.
  • As of March 16, 10:39 am, Continental A.G. is postponing its 2020 shareholders’ meeting originally scheduled April 30.  It plans to keep the meeting in Hanover and a new date will be announced “soon.”
  • As of March 13, 2:29 pm, the World Adhesive & Sealant Conference set for April 20-22 is postponed.  Organizers are hoping to keep the conference at the Hilton Chicago, and will post updates at wac2020.org.  Email info@wac2020.org for more information.  Those who have booked rooms can check corp.hiltonbusinessonline.com for more information.
  • As of March 13, 11:52 am, the 38th Clemson Global Tire Conference has been canceled.  It was scheduled for April 28-38 on Hilton Head Island.  The conference may still be held in June.  Registered participants may seek immediate refund, have payments held, or have invoices voided.
  • The Mid-American Trucking Show have canceled the 2020 show scheduled for March 26-28 at the Kentucky Exposition in Louisville.  Paid attendee registrations and fees are being moved to the 2021 show, tentatively scheduled for March 25-27, 2021.  For questions, please call 800-743-3100.
  • As of March 13, 11:17 am, the Plastics Industry Association has canceled their lobbying event, and will reschedule at a later date.  Parts of the March board meeting scheduled for March 24-26 in Washington will move to a virtual platform at an undetermined date.
  • As of March 13, 10:49, The Automotive News postponed its annual World Congress originally scheduled for March 24-25 in Detroit, and hopes to sometime in the summer of 2020.
  • As of March 12, 4:39 pm, Marangoni remains operational in the face of government restrictions.  They remain in compliance and will continue operations, arranging for employees to work remotely.
  • As of March 12, 12:02 pm, the Tire Industry Association is postponing its Lobby Day and Environmental Summit scheduled for May 6-7 in Washington.  TIA had planned several events for its 100th anniversary, and will reschedule when the virus subsides.  Currently, TIA does not anticipate any impact for the Global Tire Expo/Specialty Equipment Market Association Show to be held in November in Las Vegas.
  • As of March 12, 10:15 am, the American Chemical Society has canceled their Spring 2020 National Meeting & Expo scheduled for March 22-26 in Philadelphia.

March 17, 2020

Michelin idling tire plants in Italy, Spain, and France

Filed under: Carbon Black, Rubber, Rubber Chemicals, Silica, Tires — Notch @ 8:43 pm

Michelin is idling tire factories in Italy, Spain, and France beginning today for at least one week to deal with coronavirus.

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