Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (SRSA), manufacturer of the Dunlop tyre brand, has celebrated the official commencement of production at its state-of-the-art truck and bus radial (TBR) tyre manufacturing plant in Ladysmith.
This is the latest milestone in a journey of expansion and development by Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd which saw the world’s fifth-largest producer of automotive tyres and industrial rubber products acquire a South African tyre manufacturing plant in December 2013, resulting in the birth of SRSA. The acquisition sought to facilitate the procurement of an established manufacturing location on the African continent and control of the Dunlop brand rights for the whole of Africa.
In 2014, SRSA announced the first phase of its multi-billion-rand investment, focused on the upgrading and modernisation of the plant’s capacity, introducing new technology and equipment aimed at increasing manufacturing output of high quality passenger and Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) tyres.
In 2016, a further R970-million was injected into the adjacent underutilised land at the existing plant with the sole purpose of enabling SRSA to introduce and manufacture TBR tyres locally.
The two investments resulted in positive socio-economic impacts, creation of employment opportunities and investing in skills development within the country, with emphasis on the Ladysmith community.
The factory now employs 1 060 individuals, with over 80% of the workforce hailing from Ladysmith and surrounding areas. Employment has been created for 193 additional employees since the start-up including 118 in-service trainees, learnerships, graduates and apprenticeships, through which skills are being developed.
Empowered with the latest technology and Japanese engineering insights from SRSA’s parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd, the factory aims to eventually have the capability to manufacture enough tyres per day to meet TBR customer demand of Dunlop and Sumitomo branded tyres for both the replacement and Original Equipment market across the whole of Africa.
SRSA Chief Executive Officer, Riaz Haffejee, expressed his excitement about the prospects for growth of its Dunlop and Sumitomo branded TBR tyre in Africa and highlighted the extensive research and development processes that have been followed during the design and production of these tyres.
“The total size range will be completed by September 2019. However, our customers will not have to wait until this period to experience our top of the range TBR products with sales of TBR tyres set to commence in Q4 this year”, says Haffejee.
Dunlop has a history of innovation and a proven pedigree in the tyre business, with the added advantages of Japanese technology and the backing of the world’s fifth largest tyre producer – Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. The brand has a legacy of Original Equipment fitment for some of the world’s leading motor vehicle, truck and bus manufacturers and transport operators.